Aaron Nola will make his final start of the 2018 season on Saturday night in Philadelphia against the Atlanta Braves.
The 25-year-old will try to end the best season of his major league career on a high note --and there haven't been many for the Philadelphia Phillies in recent weeks.
Nola (16-6, 2.45 ERA) will face Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 2.96) on the penultimate day of the 2018 regular season.
The division champion Braves are 90-70 after winning the series opener Friday night, and they are fighting for home-field advantage in a National League Division Series.
The Phillies (78-82), meanwhile, are 6-20 in September and on a season-worst nine-game losing streak. Their latest loss assured the Phillies -- who were in first place in the NL East and 15 games above .500 on Aug. 5 -- will finish the season below .500.
Nola has struggled a bit in September as well. He has a 4.60 ERA in five starts this month, and nine of the 17 homers he has allowed this season have come during that span.
The Phillies have won 21 of Nola's 32 starts this season, but they are 2-4 in his last six.
Nola faced the Braves in a 2-1 Phillies loss to Atlanta last Sunday. He gave up two runs and four hits and struck out six in six innings.
"It's frustrating at times, but I think it's a learning process for us," Nola told MLB.com after the start about the Phillies' late-season slide. "I think it's a big step this year from last year. We had a month last year. I remember we had a month when I feel like we lost every day. But I feel like each year we're learning more, especially bringing in a lot of new guys this year.
"We're learning more about each other. I just think that's what baseball is. We've just got to stay focused from here on out and try to finish the year strong."
Nola's 2.45 ERA still ranks second in the NL, and he'll likely finish in the top three of the league's Cy Young Award voting.
Nola has a 2.96 ERA and a 1-2 record in four starts against the Braves this season. He is 6-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 1.038 WHIP in 11 starts against Atlanta in his career.
Sanchez faced Nola and the Phillies last Sunday, allowing one run while throwing five strong innings in his seventh win of the season. Sanchez, a veteran right-hander, is set to be part of the Braves' rotation in the NLDS. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in six of his last 10 starts.
"(Sanchez) has just been huge," Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters after Sanchez's last start. "What a great story that is. You hear in baseball about trending down and all that kind of stuff. As far as a complete pitcher and just knowing what you're doing and executing pitches, he's pretty good."
Sanchez is 5-9 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.481 WHIP in 19 career starts against the Phillies. His appearance against the Phillies on Sunday was his only start against Philadelphia this season.