Winning a Most Valuable Player award in consecutive seasons is a difficult task.
But Freddie Freeman sure is making a strong case.
After capturing the award in 2020, Freeman remains one of the hottest players in the National League. Freeman hit his 23rd home run and had two hits, three runs scored and two RBIs in the Atlanta Braves' 15-3 rout of the host Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
The Braves will look to win three of four in this series in the finale on Sunday.
Freeman is 42 for 98 over his last 26 games. Amazingly, Freeman swung and missed at a pitch to snap a streak of 138 pitches without a miss this month. Yes, Freeman has been that red hot.
"That just speaks to the special player that he is," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Freeman. "And the elite player he is, too."
The Braves had 17 hits in the 12-run victory.
The Braves will send Touki Toussaint to the mound. After struggling with a shoulder injury, Toussaint (1-0, 1.35 ERA) will look to continue the Braves' positive momentum. Toussaint is 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three career appearances against the Phillies.
"Efficiency, that's the thing you have to do as a starter to get deep in games," Toussaint said. "I think that's the most impressive thing for me. To go out there, keep my pitch count low and get outs."
Toussaint, a first-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014, gave up three hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings in his last start against the San Diego Padres.
"It was good for Touki," Snitker said. "It's obviously been a while since he's been out there in a situation like this. It was good to see. Stuff was really good, and he threw it over. That fastball had teeth on it. It was live. He has an innate ability to spin the ball. It's just about command and throwing the ball over the plate."
The Phillies have been hovering around .500 for much of the season and have been unable to string together wins in bunches.
The inconsistency was evident Saturday as they looked flat from the first pitch to the final out.
The trade deadline is rapidly coming up on July 30, and these types of losses will be difficult for the front office to determine which direction the franchise is headed.
"That's a tough one. I can say the likelihood is I know we'll be aggressive in making it happen," Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said of making moves. "We have ownership support in trying to make things happen. They've been very supportive. But you never know if you can get a deal done or not.
"We'll find out. There's a lot of competition for players out there. But we're going to try."
Andrew McCutchen had three hits for the Phillies on Saturday, but the rest of the team was rather listless.
The Phillies will need a strong performance from Aaron Nola (6-6, 4.64 ERA) on Sunday to try to salvage a split of the four-game series. Nola is 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 23 career starts against the Braves.
"I can point to underlying statistics and say he hasn't had the best luck," pitching coach Caleb Cotham told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I know luck is part of this game. He would even say he wants to pitch better, but I don't think he's pitched as bad as, say, his ERA says he has."
--Field Level Media