Not even a week after taking three of four from the Los Angeles Dodgers in LA, the Phillies are again going up against the 2020 World Series champions. The series is in Philadelphia and only slated for three games this time. The Phillies blew a 4-0 lead to the Dodgers on Sunday, allowing LA to win in walk-off fashion 5-4.
Since then, the Phillies were off on Monday and hosted NL MVP favorite Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres for three games. They dropped two of three to the Padres while scoring a total of three runs in the entire series. They were shut out twice in the series.
The Dodgers, meanwhile have won five in a row, including a four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They have scored 34 runs in the last five games and their bullpen and pitching remain outstanding.
Pitching matchups for tonight’s 7:05 PM EST start are Ranger Suarez for the Phillies and Julio Urias for the Dodgers. Suarez has compiled a 4-1 record with a 3.72 ERA in seven starts. Urias comes into tonight’s game with a 2-3 record and 3.00 ERA in seven starts. Tomorrow’s starter for the Phillies is Aaron Nola. Despite pitching very well this season, Nola has a 1-4 record and currently holds a 3.64 ERA. The Dodgers have yet to name their starter for tomorrow night. There was a belief that ace Clayton Kershaw could be ready to come back from his shoulder injury which landed him on the IL, but he recently developed a setback in his recovery and will not be ready to pitch in this series. On Sunday afternoon, the Phillies will go with Zach Eflin. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.90 ERA but had a very nice start against the Padres on Tuesday going six innings and only allowing one run. He took the loss because the Phillies were shut out. LA counters with Tony Gonsolin. Gonsolin is 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA and he did not pitch last weekend against the Phils in LA.
Since scoring 34 runs in four games, the Phillies’ offense has gone cold as ice. They scored three against the Padres in three games. The Phillies, at home, have a .684 OPS, which is 17th in baseball. On the road, they are the best offense in baseball, with an OPS of .792. Last season, these numbers were .737 at home and .716 on the road. For all of the money being spent on the offense and the outfield, in particular, the Phillies are just not getting enough out of them right now. We knew there would have to be games that the offense would have to win by itself. The four games in LA are a clear example. We also knew there would be games that the bullpen loses by itself. Right now, the offense is not producing enough to overcome a bad bullpen.
The rotation has been a strength. Zack Wheeler looks more like his Cy Young self every time he starts a game. Aaron Nola has bounced back nicely from last season, though his record doesn’t show it. Kyle Gibson has shown he can eat innings for this team and limit the number of arms needed from the ‘pen. Zach Eflin looks stronger every start. Ranger Suarez is proving his historic season last year was not a fluke.
The Phillies’ defense has also exceeded expectations. For the most part, they are making the routine plays, and not giving the pitchers any trouble. The fact that they are not playing themselves out of games defensively is good. That’s a positive that all fans should be happy with.
As of posting this article, the Phillies’ lineup has not been released. Hopefully, Bryce Harper is able to swing the bat again following his injection which has forced him out of the lineup for the last four games. With him back in the lineup, the Phillies don’t have to use someone like Roman Quinn, Garrett Stubbs, or Johan Camargo in the field. Joe Girardi probably still will anyway.
Finally, the last week proves just how valuable Bryce Harper is to the Phillies’ offense. With him, they are probably a top three-to-five offense in baseball. Without him, Roman Quinn is given at least three at-bats per game. That should say enough.