The Phillies: Is it hot in here, or it just the Phillies? Ha ha ha, but seriously folks, all other teams are bad except for this one. And in actuality, in Philadelphia this weekend it was unreasonably cold and rainy. But the Phillies did their best to keep hope for humanity's survival in this region alive by winning their fourth, fifth, and sixth games in a row. Not bad for a team expected to battle the Braves for scraps in the subbasement of the NL East. At five games over .500, people have inevitably begun to compare this team to those we remember fondly, mostly because we haven't seen a team perform this well since the night Ryan Howard's Achilles saw what was coming and committed suicide.
Phillies & Cardinals play tonight. Phillies (15-10) have a better record than Cards (12-13). Last time that happened: Game 5, 2011 NLDS— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) May 2, 2016
The Cardinals: The irascible Cardinals were a part of their own sweep over the weekend, too; only they were on the receiving end at the hands of the Nationals. Washington, still fuming over their sweeping by the Phillies, probably secured their wins through a veil of tears, as the whiniest, most self-involved team in the league took their frustrations out on a sputtering St. Louis lineup, outscoring them 17-6. Here's to getting to face the Redbirds while they are feeling the worst about themselves!
Matt Adams: Look, you don't get swept by the Nationals because you're knocking the hell out of the ball. Adams had one of the two home runs the Cardinals were able to hit against Washington, and he even managed a few more hits and a walk to boot. The Cardinals only scored more than one run once during this series. My goodness, what a weekend!
Matt Holliday: Holliday had four hits, including a double! This makes him a huge contributor to the Cardinals' monstrous six-run weekend. Great stuff, Matt! At least he didn't throw a bat at the umpire this time.
Ryan Howard: A walk-off bomb gets you on this list, even if it was three days ago. Even if you didn't have a hit in the series' last two games. Even if you go 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the series finale. Look, I don't make the rules.
Odubel Herrera: El Torito had four hits, a walk, and a run scored in the first two games against the Indians. Then he went 0-for-3 in Sunday's game. But who didn't! The offense in that game was left in the steady hands of Freddy Galvis, Peter Bourjos, and Vince Velasquez. What do you want from me? The Phillies are 15-10 and I told you I don't make the rules.
David Lough: Hey, look at you, David Lough! Swapped in for Cedric Hunter, the blips of playing time and pinch hit opportunities he got this weekend translated into three hits, an RBI, and a run scored. "Lough" man on the totem pole indeed! Indeed.
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Adam Wainwright
Things are going great for Wainwright. Not only did he start the season with an 0-3 record and a 7.25 ERA, but his manager for some reason trusts him as an offensive weapon.
Of course, things worked out for managerial genius Matheny, as Wainwright hit a bases-clearing triple. "For the first time this season, something good happened for Wainwright," ESPN wrote. Hooray! With the way he's been pitching, however, it might be the last "something good" to happen to him this year.
Hellickson shut out Bryce Harper, and the rest of the Nationals I guess, in his last start, throwing seven innings of two-hit ball. As the only veteran left in the rotation, Hellickson is the only pitcher with a deep history against other teams, but even he has only faced the Cardinals once before, throwing 7.1 innings and allowing three earned runs. But that was back in 2011, before the Cardinals, you know. Sucked.
Aaron Nola vs. Michael Wacha
Aaron Nola is crushing the rest of baseball in terms of called third strikes. Just close your eyes and hope for the best, Cardinals.
The debate rages on about Wacha - is he an ace, or merely a good starter? A furious public demands to know. He's allowed ten earned runs in five starts and 29.1 innings this season. Matheny seemed a little antsy about getting him over 100 pitches in a start until his last one, when he boldly cross the threshold with 114. As Wainwright has stumbled, Cardinals fans have turned to Wacha to be the intimidating force in the rotation, and he has been solid, but Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis are a collective 4-for-8 against him, so. Problem solved.
Adam Morgan vs. Mike Leake
Sliding into the role left behind by Charlie Morton, Morgan struck out seven and walked one while allowing three runs in his 2016 debut. He fell into some deep counts early on against the Indians, but managed to escape baseball justice, and will be looking to prove that he deserved to be a part of this rotation in the first place. You could do a lot worse than following a blueprint on the mound set by Carlos Ruiz.
Leake has managed to get his season-opening 8.31 ERA down to 5.83. He's given up four home runs and hit three batters in only five starts, which sounded like a lot to me, but Cole Hamels is the league leader with five. Get it together, Cole! Or, keep hitting people. You know what you're doing. Anyways, Leake, like Wainwright, is a pitcher looking to stabilize after a rocky start to the season. These pitchers might be catching the Phillies at just the wrong time - although three low-scoring, one-run victories may not be the dependably productive offense required to beat them on a bad day.