Series Preview: Phillies open 6 game home stand tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays
After a troubling start to their west coast road trip, the Phillies finished out their series vs the Padres on Sunday with a 7-4 win, taking 2-of-3 in San Diego. They will now head back home to Citizens Bank Park for six home games, hoping to build some momentum heading into September. The Phillies, sitting at 63-61, are trailing the Braves by 4.5 games in the National League East and remain five games out of the NL Wild Card. Tonight, they will host the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of two games before opening a four game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ranger Suarez will take the hill in the series opener tonight for the Phillies. Overall, Ranger Suarez has been one of the more consistent pitchers for the Phillies this season, whether that was from the bullpen or starting rotation. He did however, run into some trouble against the Diamondbacks in his last outing in Arizona.
Suarez only lasted 4 2/3 innings against the D-Backs, allowing three earned runs and striking out just two batters. As he starts more games, his pitch count has been getting higher and higher. He threw 86 pitches last game and tonight, if he’s able to bounce back after last night, I would expect him to pitch even deeper into the game.
For the Rays, they will send pitcher Drew Rasmussen to the round. Much like Suarez, Rasmussen is a bullpen arm that has been thrusted into the starting rotation for the Rays. He has only made a handful of starts this season, and has pitched well. Most recently, he threw four innings against a very bad Orioles team, allowing zero runs, one hit, and. a walk while striking out three.
Wednesday: Zack Wheeler (10-8, 2.77 ERA) vs Undecided (Rays)
Zack Wheeler will get the start for the Phillies on Wednesday night, looking to continue his dominant season on the mound. Wheeler is throwing the best season of his career, leading the National League in innings, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts.
Wheeler will look to bounce back after a rough outing in Arizona, possibly his worst of the year. He threw 6 and two thirds against the Diamondbacks, allowing six earned runs. He got hit around by a terrible Diamondbacks team, but if he continues to throw like he has been this season, Wednesday shouldn’t be a problem for the Phillies.
Key Players vs the Rays
Rhys Hoskins is back from the injured list, and man did he make his presence known on Sunday. Hoskins crushed two HRs in his first game back, coming back right where he left off. The Big Fella has been hitting everything lately, slashing .500/.577/1.182 over his last seven games, with four home runs, eight RBIs, and eleven hits.
Hoskins is a very hot and cold player, but it’s no secret that when he’s in the lineup, the Phillies have more success. Rhys now has nine multi HR games as a Phillie, tied with Jim Thome, Jimmy Rollins, Del Ennis, and Darren Daulton. Hoskins will look to continue his dominance at the plate this weekend, and bring this team back to the top of the NL East.
Odubel Herrera tends to be a very frustrating baseball player. Lackluster mistakes in the field, and sometimes at the plate, have been lingering in Odubel’s game for years. But Herrera has been crushing the ball as of late, and has been a big spark in the leadoff spot for the Fightins.
Herrera is crushing a line of .340/.400/.680 over his last 15 games, with four home runs, nine RBIs, and seventeen hits. Everything he has seen in the box has been put in play, and he’s given this team a chance to build every time he steps to the plate. A hot Odubel is a huge factor for this team, especially in the leadoff spot.
Sitting 4.5 games back, with about a month to go on their schedule, we’ve officially hit crunch time. Every game matters going forward for the Phillies, and this two game series is a great chance to build some momentum heading into September. Two games vs the Tampa Bay Rays starting tonight, it’s time to take care of business.
The Braves have a tough schedule ahead of them, and just lost to the Yankees last night. They will have to play the Yankees again tonight, before three games against the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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