Friday April 12th, 2024 8:31AM

Braves set to open 2024 in familiar place

By The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — The Atlanta Braves will open the 2024 campaign on Thursday in the exact same place they finished the 2023 season.

Atlanta's Spencer Strider will go against Philadelphia's Zack Wheeler in a juicy NL East opener between the Phillies and Braves in Philadelphia.

However, a 95 percent chance of rain in Philadelphia could wash out Thursday's action.

Wheeler is pitching with a new contract after agreeing to a $126 million, three-year deal for 2025-27 this spring. The 33-year-old could've become a free agent after this season, but instead he recommitted to Philadelphia, where he's been among the game's best since joining the club as a free agent for the 2020 season.

Strider, meanwhile, has a new pitch. The 25-year-old right-hander has been working on a curveball this spring to deepen his repertoire. A scary thought for batters — without that curve, Strider struck out a major league-high 281 in 186 2/3 innings last season, finishing fourth in NL Cy Young Award balloting.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves finished 14 games ahead of Philadelphia each of the past two years. But the Phillies ended Atlanta's postseason in Game 4 of a Division Series at Citizens Bank Park both times.

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