Series Preview: Phillies head to Phoenix to make up ground in the NL East race against the Diamondbacks
After losing four of their last six games, the Phillies will head west for six games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres. The Phillies currently sit 1.5 games back of the Braves in the NL East, and hold a 61-57 record. The Mets, losers of four straight, are two games back from the Phillies in third place.
There is no secret that the Diamondbacks are terrible. They hold the worst record in Major League Baseball at 38-81, and are 38.5 games out of their division. Their run differential (-173) is laughable. This series should be a breeze for the Phillies, right? Well if they play like they love to play against bad teams, not necessarily.
The Phillies have had a tendency to play down to their opponent in years past, and this season hasn’t really been much of a difference. It wasn’t that long ago that the Phillies lost two of three games to the Pirates in Pittsburgh and we all know their on-going struggles with the Miami Marlins. Away from home, the Phillies are just 25-32. This is not a series that the Phillies can sleepwalk through with the Padres awaiting them in San Diego on Friday.
This upcoming stretch of games is arguably the biggest part of the season. Going up against a bad team, with your ace pitching one of the games, there is absolutely no reason that The Phillies shouldn’t sweep this Diamondbacks team. Injuries have hurt this team however, which is something that could put a dampen on that.
Rhys Hoskins is eligible to return to the team tomorrow, injury willing. He has been nursing his groin injury for weeks now, dating all the way back to that Pittsburgh series. Hoskins was crushing the ball before getting hurt, slashing .435/.500/.957 in his last seven games, with 3 HRs and 9 RBIs. Getting Hoskins’ bat back is crucial for this team, who has struggled to hit the long ball over the last two series.
Sam Coonrod started his rehab assignment today, and his eligible to return to the roster on the 24th. Coonrod will be another arm back in the bullpen, who has thrown a consistently average season for the team in the games he’s pitched.
Zach Eflin is beginning rehab assignments very soon, and has been throwing bullpens for the last few days. Getting Eflin back will be a huge upgrade for the team. He has been very good third starter for this team this season, going 4-7 with a 4.17 ERA, and 99 strikeouts. Zach Eflin back in the rotation will solidify a Nola, Wheeler, Eflin, Gibson, and Suarez rotation, which will be scary come late August/September.
Tuesday (9:40 EST): Kyle Gibson (2-1, 3.18 ERA) vs Undecided (Diamondbacks)
Kyle Gibson will take the hill for the Phillies in the series opener on Tuesday. Gibson has been a solid fourth arm for this starting rotation since acquired from the Texas Rangers. He’s provided length, consistency, and some much needed energy on the mound. Starting this series off on a high note is key for the Phillies, and Gibson will be on the mound to take care of that.
Wednesday (9:40 EST): Ranger Suarez (5-3, 1.07 ERA) vs Undecided (Diamondbacks)
Ranger Suarez will take the hill for the team in his fourth start this season. Suarez has been great in his first three games, posting a 0.90 ERA, and allowing just three hits. Ranger will probably be off of his pitch count that he has been working with the last few games, due to him getting used to the starting role. If Ranger can continue his dominance fromn the starting role, he will undoubtedly be the 5th arm heading into September.
(Suarez, 1.07 ERA. deGrom, 1.08 ERA. Stats don’t lie folks).
Zack Wheeler will continue his Cy Young chasing season on Thursday, in the series finale. Wheeler has been excellent for the Phillies this whole year, leading the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts.
With deGrom still on the injured list, the Cy Young isn’t looking like too crazy of a long shot for Zack. But more importantly, he needs to get the job done on Thursday, and close the series out on a high note, going up against the left hander in Bumgarner.
The Phillies look to get the momentum back on their side this week, as they take on a depleted Arizona Diamondbacks team. Gibson, Suarez, and Wheeler will take the hill for the Fightins, who look to take back control of the National League East.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photos