Zack Wheeler dominates Braves as Phillies move to 2-0 on season with 4-0 win

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The Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday moved to 2-0 on the new season with a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citizens’ Bank Park (box score). Central to those efforts was right-hander Zack Wheeler, who completely suffocated the Atlanta lineup: 

Of his 90 pitches, 62 went for strikes and he also registered five ground-ball outs. Wheeler ended his day by retiring 17 in a row, a stretch that included swinging strikeouts of Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna to end the seventh. Speaking of the typically mighty likes of Freeman and Ozuna, the Atlanta offense is coming off a 2020 season in which they ranked second in the National League in runs scored and first in OPS, and on Saturday the lineup was at full strength. That’s to say, Wheeler’s sparkling line above came against high-level offensive competition. That sparkling line also put him in elite franchise company: 

Wheeler attacked the Braves with his usual five-pitch mix — fastball, sinker, slider, curve, and changeup — and as usual, showed elite velocity. On Saturday, his fastball topped out at 100 mph, and he even threw a handful of sliders that checked in at 92 mph and change. He often sequenced his sinker with that slider to great effect. Related to all of this, Wheeler induced 17 swinging strikes on the day, and he never allowed a runner to reach scoring position. 

Speaking of that Saturday fastball, let’s watch it eat: 

When the Phillies dropped nine figures on Wheeler prior to the 2020 season, some hand-wringing ensued given his inconsistent results and health concerns over the years. The Phillies, however, were betting on Wheeler’s stuff and improvement at the command-and-control level. He’s coming off an excellent 2020, and Saturday’s gem showed that when Wheeler’s on pitches like a true frontline ace. 

Need more? All right. Wheeler also racked up a single, a double, and two RBI. So let’s make that: Phillies 4 Braves 0; Zack Wheeler 2 Braves 0. 

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