And the pitcher going to the mound for the Braves is a lefthander, baseball's version of kryptonite for the Phillies lineup last season.
This game, for all those reasons, means a little more for the Phillies than your average second game of the season.
At some point, Roy Halladay has to back up his own words and those of pitching coach Rich Dubee. When Halladay and the Phillies left Clearwater, Fla., six days ago, the quotes did not match the two-time Cy Young Award winner's spring-training performance.
After an uneven 96-pitch Graperfruit League finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay spun a positive outlook on his offseason and his seven weeks of preparation in spring training.
His cutter, he said, "was really good" in that final outing. The shoulder and back that gave him fits in 2012 were "night and day" in a positive way from the way he felt last year at this same time.
This, according to Halladay, is a year in which he is more ready than he has been in five years.
It's a fascinating take on things considering Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel both expressed their concern following Halladay's "lethargic" March 12 outing against the Detroit Tigers. Nothing that happened after that outing definitively allayed those concerns.
Halladay's next time out, he lasted just one inning against Baltimore on St. Patrick's Day because of a stomach virus. That was followed by a poor performance against Toronto minor-leaguers that lasted only four innings and his jagged finale last week. He left Clearwater without having completed five innings in any single start, a potentially ominous sign for a man who has led his league in complete games seven times since 2003 and in innings pitched four times since 2002.
"The last couple times, he's gaining some momentum," Dubee said. "I feel fine [about his spring]."
Feeling good and having been great won't mean much Wednesday night if Halladay is unable to execute pitches better than he did in spring training. This is not only a huge test for the pitcher because of his spring training, it's important because it is against an Atlanta team that abused him last year.
Halladay surrendered 30 hits, including six homers, and 22 earned runs in four starts that covered only 172/3 innings against the Braves. You can easily make the argument that this Braves lineup is better than the one he had to face last year. Take away Halladay's numbers last season against Atlanta and he would have finished with a respectable 3.64 ERA instead of the 4.49 that permanently sits next to his 2012 season.
As a team, the Phillies went 6-12 against the Braves last year, and it's clear with the addition of Justin and B.J. Upton that they have a confident and balanced lineup that is still complemented by one of the best bullpens in baseball.
The opposing starting pitcher Wednesday also adds to the intrigue of game No. 2 for the Phillies. Paul Maholm is a lefty, and the Phillies went 23-30 and hit .235 against lefties last season. They have had success against Maholm in the past, but Monday night's opener turned back in the Braves' favor when lefthander Luis Avilan trotted in from the bullpen. He snuffed a fifth-inning Phillies rally by striking out Ryan Howard and getting Domonic Brown to hit a broken-bat grounder to second with the bases loaded and two outs.
When catcher Carlos Ruiz returns from his 25-game suspension and Delmon Young comes off the disabled list, the Phillies should be better equipped to handle lefthanders. They will have neither player in a second game of the season that has some real importance for a variety of reasons.
Contact Bob Brookover at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @brookob.