Braves' Freeman takes 28-game hit streak into final week
ATLANTA -- If Freddie Freeman started his surge earlier, he might have been a viable National League Most Valuable Player candidate.
The hot-hitting Atlanta Braves first baseman leads the team into the final six games of the season, beginning Tuesday with the start of a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field.
Freeman was named the NL's Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday. It was the third time he received the honor since June. He batted .500 (11-for-22) with three doubles, two home runs and five runs in helping the Braves go 5-1.
"Freddie Freeman is a terrific hitter, he's one of the best players in the whole game," Atlanta general manager John Coppolella said.
Freeman is batting .305 with 32 home runs and 87 RBIs to go along with 43 doubles, six triples and six stolen bases.
He will try Tuesday to extend his 28-game hitting streak, only one shy of matching the longest in the majors this season. Freeman has reached base safely in 44 straight games.
Freeman owns a .357 career average against the Phillies' Tuesday starting pitcher, Jerad Eickhoff.
Atlanta ace Julio Teheran will oppose Eickhoff in the opener of the three-game series, the penultimate set at Turner Field.
Teheran (6-10, 3.10 ERA) will make his 29th start. He is coming off an impressive seven-inning stint against the New York Mets on Sept. 20 that saw him allow one run on five hits and a walk. In his four starts this September, Teheran is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA.
Teheran is 7-4 with a 2.31 ERA in 14 career starts against the Phillies. He is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against Philadelphia this season. He beat the Phillies on Sept. 4 when he threw six shutout innings and struck out seven.
Eickhoff (11-14, 3.75 ERA) has been a workhorse for the Phillies. He is making his 31st start. In his last outing on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox, Eickhoff allowed three runs -- all solo homers -- in seven innings of a win. In his four September starts, Eickhoff is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA.
Eickhoff has made five career starts against the Braves, going 2-1 with a 1.34 ERA. His last start against Atlanta came on July 31, and he received no decision after throwing five scoreless innings.
The Phillies hope that Eickhoff can carry them deep in the game and save the bullpen, which has twice blown two saves in the same game in the past 10 days. Of particular concern is Jeanmar Gomez, who has wilted from overwork.
"The way I look at it is he's in a slump like hitters are," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I told him for the next couple of chances to close, I'm going to try somebody else. Just to give him a mental break."
The Phillies might use Hector Neris or rookie Edubray Ramos in the closer role against the Braves.
Philadelphia could be without rookie outfielder Tyler Goeddel. He was hit in the head by a pitch last week and continues to be monitored for a concussion. Manager Pete Mackanin said he wasn't sure if Goeddel would be available for the final six games.