Series Preview: Phillies welcome the Cincinnati Reds to South Philly
The Phillies welcome the Cincinnati Reds to town for a three game series after dropping two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With two rain delays in the two Phillies losses vs LA, the previous series sort of felt like a fluke. After salvaging a win to avoid the sweep in the series finale vs the Dodgers, the team will look to continue their hot month of August vs the Reds starting tonight at 7:05pm. The Phillies are currently a half game up on the New York Mets and a game above the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
Bryce Harper is currently the best player in baseball and it’s really hard to argue otherwise. Harper is slashing .318/.492/.795 over his last 15 games, with 5 HRs, 9 RBIs, 14 Hs, and an OPS good for 1.287. Bryce has been the backbone, the energy, and the leader of this team, and he looks to continue that heading into the weekend.
The Phillies have been plagued by injuries over the last month. JT Realmuto caught Saturday night’s game, and after taking two pitches back to back off the face mask behind the plate, he was taken out of the game. JT was put into concussion protocol, by rules of the MLB.
After passing all of his concussion tests, Realmuto was eligible to play on Sunday, but did not enter the game. All signs are leading to the Phils having the BCIB back in the lineup for the start of this series.
The Big Fella is still nursing his groin injury from weeks back, and will not play this series. Hoskins is eligible to return on August 17th, for game one of a three game series vs the Diamondbacks. Before going down, Hoskins was crushing the baseball, slashing .435/.500/.957 over his last seven games, with 3 HRs, 9 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.457.
Brad Miller and Alec Bohm have been filling in at first base in his absence, and the Bohm experiment has not gone well. After making an error on a fundamental ground ball on Saturday night, Bohm was pulled from first base late in the game. Getting Hoskins back for the Arizona series will be very important for this team.
Zach Eflin hasn’t pitched for the Phillies in a long time, with tendinitis in his right knee. His last start was July 16th, and he has been on the IL since. He has been throwing occasional bullpens as of recent, including a 38 pitch session yesterday. The team is looking to throw Eflin one or two more times in the bullpen, and potentially a minor league rehab start as well just to make sure he’s ready to go.
Getting Eflin back in the rotation will solidify this team’s starting pitching, and set them up to make a push for the playoffs. Once Eflin is healthy, the rotation will be Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Kyle Gibson, and Ranger Suarez. The Hunt for Red October is on, and those five players will be leading this team from the mound.
Series Pitching Matchups
The Phillies Ace takes the hill for the series opener tonight. Zack Wheeler will continue his Cy Young chasing season, looking to get his 11th win of the year. Wheeler is coming off one of the most masterful pitching performances I have ever seen. The complete game on Roy Halladay Day, throwing 9 innings, giving up just two hits, zero earned runs, and striking out 11 batters.
With Jacob DeGrom out, the Cy Young Award isn’t looking like a long shot for Wheeler. He leads the leagues innings pitched, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts. If Wheeler continues his dominance for the rest of the season, the Cy Young should be coming back to Philly for the first time since Roy Halladay in 2010.
Although not confirmed, Matt Moore will be taking the ball on Saturday for the Phillies, if everything goes according to plan. Moore has struggled this year in regards to lengthy innings. He hasn’t been able to get past the 4th or 5th inning, and even in those times, he has tended to never have his stuff on the mound.
Zack Wheeler throwing the day before Matt Moore is the best situation possible for the Phillies. If Wheeler goes late into the game like he has all year, the bullpen will be saved up, preparing for an early exit from Matt Moore. But hey, hopefully that won’t be the case, and Moore can dig himself deep into the game on Saturday.
Aaron Nola is coming off a short outing due to rain on Tuesday night. Nola struck out seven batters in just four innings, allowing just one hit, and showed many signs of his old self in that start. Nola has been very up and down this year, with shaky starts coming a little too frequently.
A lockdown Aaron Nola is one the biggest keys for this team making a serious playoff push. After his most recent start, Nola will look to build off of that momentum and close this series out in Nola fashion on Sunday.
The Phillies will look to stay in the win column this weekend, as they welcome the Cincinnati Reds to South Philadelphia for a three game series. Zack Wheeler will look to continue his dominance opening up the series on Friday night, starting at 7:05 EST.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Phillies