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Braves vs. Phillies: Potential NL Wild Card Preview Arrives In Philadelphia

The Braves and Phillies meet for a big three-game series with playoff implications on the line.

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Pitcher Tommy Hanson #48 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch during the game against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on September 15, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Tommy Hanson #48 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch during the game against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on September 15, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies appeared to be conceding their season at the trade deadline as they shipped off Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and others to playoff contenders, but that has been far from the case in recent weeks. The Phillies have been one of the hottest teams in baseball lately, and now they sit just four games back of the Cardinals for the second wild card spot.

With three teams ahead of them in the standings it is unlikely that Philly will make the postseason this year, but they'll at least make things interesting the next two weeks. And with them playing the Braves three times and the Nationals six, they could be a big factor in determining who wins the National League East.

The Phillies are essentially the same team the Bravos saw in Atlanta two weekends ago. All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz has returned from the disabled list, although he's cooled off a bit since an incredible first half of the season. The team is coming off a sweep of the Mets, aided greatly by some solid pitching performances.

The Braves need to take care of business this weekend. The Phillies are the only team remaining on the schedule above .500, and a series victory over a red-hot team would essentially clinch a playoff spot in 2012. With the Nationals set to face the even-hotter Brewers the next four days, there will be a golden opportunity for Chipper Jones and the boys to make a move in the standings.

Pitching Probables & Start Times:

Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET - Tommy Hanson (12-8, 4.33 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (9-11, 3.95 ERA)

Saturday, 4:05 p.m. - Mike Minor (9-10, 4.31 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (10-9, 4.03 ERA)

Sunday, 1:35 p.m. - Tim Hudson (15-6, 3.77 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (6-7, 3.27 ERA)

For more on the Braves, be sure to check out Talking Chop.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.