In reference to the title, the Braves are the Beauty and the Phillies are the beast but not because of the reasons you might think. Atlanta requires finesse and control to dominate their opponents, while the Phillies use strikeouts and flat out strength to destroy their opponents. Both teams use different overall pitching approaches, but both get the job done and then some.

Why do Braves and Phillies fans always bicker and compare the two pitching staffs? Why can’t we just admire the sheer dominance of the two NL powers? What other division can say that they have the top two pitching rotations in the majors? 

As both a Braves fan and a baseball fan, I love that pitching is once again returning to glory. I also love the great competition between the Braves and the Phillies. It is almost no fun when a team runs away from the rest of the pack because the games lose some of their meaning. I would rather see a team win a division on the last day of the season rather than close out the season 10 games ahead of everyone else. That makes the playoffs even more special and meaningful. 

When it comes to the Braves and Phillies, that competition is apparent and vicious. Although the Phillies are four games up, they are not out of the woods yet. The Braves themselves are four games up in the wild card, which shows how great both teams have been this year. The Phillies’ pitching staff as of July 1 has a 3.04 ERA while the Braves have a 3.03 ERA. It has been like that all year.


Of course, it is fun to have friendly arguments over the two staffs, but it is also nice to take a step back and admire what they have done this season. First of all, two Braves pitchers (Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson) and two Phillies’ pitchers (Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels) make up four of the top five pitchers in terms of ERA in the NL.

Second of all, both Halladay and Jair Jurrjens are 11-3 and are the first two pitchers to 11 wins in the NL. Halladay dominates the entire league in innings pitched with 136.1 and in strikeouts, with 131. This gets back to the beast part of things. Halladay has been an absolute beast no question about it.

Jurrjens, on the other hand, has used a different approach. He has surgically dissected his foes and has a microscopic ERA of 1.89. He does not have the best strikeout rate nor does he have the best WHIP. However, he has used control and precision to pitch to perfection and has a great chance of starting for the NL in the All-Star game. 

Those are the two best pitchers in the NL so far to this point in the season. What about the rest of the pitchers on both staffs? Well, Cliff Lee has been on a tear, and Cole Hamels has been masterful. Both use nasty pitches to baffle opponents, with Lee pitching three straight complete game shutouts.

With the performances of Lee, Hamels and Halladay, it is easy to forget the contributions of Roy Oswalt and Vance Worley. These two have anchored the back end of the rotation and have given the Phillies the opportunity to win in almost every game. So far through the season any five of those could be an ace on most pitching staffs in MLB

For the Braves, Tommy Hanson has been a control freak but not in terms of not allowing walks. No, he just makes sure that no one gets base hits. Opponents are only hitting .193 against him, best in the NL. He also is pretty prolific with strikeouts as shown by his NL second-best K/9 rate of 9.77. Another Braves pitcher relies on strikeouts, which is Brandon Beachy, the Braves version of Vance Worley.

Beachy is at this point a reasonable candidate, as is Worley, for Rookie of the Year. Beach has a K/9 rate of 10.54, which would be best in the NL if he did not become injured for part of the season. The other two Braves pitchers are the veterans Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe, who have had seasons like Oswalt’s. They have done good, not great, jobs but have also given the Braves every opportunity to win barring a few blowouts. While the overall performance of the Braves’ rotation has not been as prolific as the Phillies’, they both are more consistent and masterful than almost all other five-man rotations in baseball.


Their bullpens also rank among the very best, if not the best, in baseball. While the Braves’ bullpen success was somewhat expected, the Phillies have shocked everyone with their bullpen’s performance, especially since half of it has been and is injured. The Braves have arguably the best reliever in baseball in Jonny Venters, who was had the most appearances in baseball and had a sub 1.00 ERA for most of the first half of the season.

Along with Venters are Craig Kimbrel, their rookie closer, Eric O’Flaherty, George Sherrill, Scott Linebrink, Scott Proctor and Cristhian Martinez. These pitchers all have an ERA under 3.60, and have pitched almost 200 innings combined. They have shown that they are in it for the long haul and that if the Braves pitching has done the job that it has done all season, then good luck trying to win the game. 

The Phillies have Ryan Madson, their closer, Danys Baez, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes, J.C. Romero, David Herndon and Jose Contreras. Although they have not worked nearly as much as the Braves’ bullpen, which is an attribute to the Phillies’ starting five, they have been nearly as stingy late in games. As in the case of the Braves, opponents shouldn’t expect to score all of their runs late in games once the starter has been pulled.

While most staffs in the league either have their pitching weakness with their bullpen or their starter, the Braves and the Phillies just do not have a soft spot. Almost all staffs have one starter that you can almost guarantee you can score on, usually their fifth starter, but the Braves and Phillies pitching staffs don’t have that starter. If you think that the fifth starter is the weakest link for the two teams, think again.

While nuances between the Atlanta Braves‘ and the Philadelphia Phillies‘ pitching staffs can be argued, one cannot argue the effectiveness and the overall dominance of the two so far through this season. There is a major reason why two teams with inconsistent and struggling offenses have two of the top three best records in all of baseball. I personally cannot wait for the series between these two forces right before All-Star Weekend.

If this season has told us anything, those games will be decided by one run. For now, though, we can just sit back and revel at the amazing performances of the two best pitching staffs in the USA. 

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