It feels like every week, the Phillies have to recover from something; a 9-0 loss, a different, less lopsided loss, losing two out of three of a series, losing an entire series, losing a beloved player in a trade with the Dodgers.
Huh. Starting to see a pattern here.
Meanwhile, after weeks of letting us think they were blowing it, the Mets (and in the AL, the Royals) are wedging themselves back into wild-card contention (at least the NL East is considered pretty much out of their grasp at this point). Still 3.5 games out, they’ve got the Marlins and Pirates ahead of them, both of whom play the Phillies in the coming days, and all of whom are probably hoping these are as easy a set of three wins as they are predicted to be. The Phillies can really stick it to these dreamy-eyed playoff hopefuls by salvaging a win from a messy series. Wooooo!
Yoenis Cespedes: Happy to tell reporters that his recent injuries had nothing to do with his golf game, Cespedes went on to collect nine hits and two stolen bases in the last week.
Asdrubal Cabrera: Cabrera’s return sent Jose Reyes back to third base, aligning the Mets appropriately (though Reyes’ truly appropriate place should be off the field somewhere). The shortstop got busy pretty quick, logging four doubles since his return.
Jose Reyes: This goblin that crawled out of a rest stop toilet somewhere on the Jersey Turnpike is doing its best impression of a human.
Maikel Franco: Franco’s home run vs. the Dodgers saved the game and kept alive the impression that he was a helpful young asset to this team. He’s also only 24.
Maikel Franco: .253/.309/.444 .753 OPS 22 HR 72 RBI— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) August 23, 2016
Bryce Harper: .244/.385/.455 .840 OPS 22 HR 68 RBI
Stat lines closer than I thought.
Jorge Alfaro: Sneaking this bit of fallout from the Carlos Ruiz trade onto the newswire after midnight, the Phillies missed out on a reaction such as holy crap they promoted Jorge Alfaro to the big leagues, holy crap. The 23-year-old has slashed .279/.321/.442 in 90 games at Reading this season, and recently survived a baseball atrocity flung at him by vengeful baseball gods who’d heard he was about to be called up.
Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro beat out an infield hit but the throw from the infielder hit him directly in the face.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) August 25, 2016
Freddy Galvis/Cesar Hernandez: The middle infield has combined for 4 HR, 4 2B, and 10 H in the last week. Even Emmanuel Burriss got on base twice and scored.
Adam Morgan vs. Bartolo Colon, 7:10 p.m.
Morgan threw his best start of the season against the Cardinals, and I frolicked and tossed flower petals in the air as he left the field after throwing six innings of one-run ball. I am not saying that means he will notch another encouraging start against another annoying lineup—the only other time he faced the Mets in his career, Morgan gave up 4 HR in 3.2 IP—but he has to feel like he’s finally made progress and would do anything to hang onto that feeling. At least Carlos Ruiz, a battery mate with whom Morgan had a 6.23 ERA, is gone, so he can finally start finding some success more often (Everyone is thinking this. Everyone).
Colon threw 6.1 IP in his last start, nine hits and two earned runs, kept getting out of trouble, his offense produced nine runs on the day; you know the story. Things typically work out well for Colon. In his previous encounter with the Phillies lineup, he only lasted 5.2 innings, letting three runs score, but none of them were earned, so he could sit in the dugout feeling relatively blameless. Imagine living with Colon’s soul. Imagine being able to look people in the face with that level of confidence and faulltlessness. It must be truly wonderful for him to get out of bed in the morning.
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m.
With the amount of rattling that has continued to occur to the Dodgers rotation—Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson joined Clayton Kershaw on the DL this week—you’d think the name they’d uttered into Matt Klentak’s private, secure line yesterday would’ve been Hellickson’s, not Chooch’s. But here we are, about to watch Hellboy make another start, and here we are, watching him do so as the team’s most effective starter. You know the drill; he’s coming off a seven-inning quality start, though he has not had a great season against the Metropolitans, who have pinned a 5.63 ERA to him in six starts.
Syndergaard promised himself a return to simplicity his last time out, facing the Giants, and threw eight shut-out innings. The start prior to that, he’d hit his third home run of the season. The Phillies will need to throw everything they’ve got—which is probably Jeremy Hellickson, Cesar Hernandez, and the last handful of dirt Chooch touched in a Phillies uniform—at this reheating 23-year-old monster to have a chance if he’s turning things around.
Vince Velasquez vs. Robert Gsellman, 1:10 p.m.
Another Vince Velasquez start, another solid first inning or two, and then another clutch of trouble hatching in the third or fourth inning, leaving him scarred with a bunch of earned runs (five last time against the Cardinals) and sending the Phillies on their way to an unwatchable 9-0 loss. I love a good bounce back candidate as much as anybody, but I’m ready to see something, anything, that dispels the idea that his legendary 16-K CGSO vs. the Padres back in April was not a fluke.
No one really knows who Robert Gsellman is. Rumor has it he just showed up on the Mets doorstep during a driving rain storm while management had been inside, somberly discussing what to after Steven Matz had been moved to the 15-day disabled list. Having spent most of his time with the Mets’ Double and Triple A affiliates this year, he’d only thrown 3.2 mysterious innings for the Mets this season, allowing two hits, three walks, and hitting a guy, but conceding no runs. His struggles with the transition from Binghamton to Las Vegas are encouraging to any opposition, however, though who wouldn’t have trouble with a change like that.
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