There was only one team that, in their second straight series win, gave the Padres a 3-15 record on Sundays this season. I don't know if this classifies the Phillies as "unstoppable," but clearly they are very close as they pull into L.A. They're probably not even thinking about how they haven't even seen Chase Utley since he was traded; how they've heard rumors about him becoming an effective lead-off hitter for the first time at 37; how he "listens" to the bats to determine if they will obey him; how he's been hitting .190 in the second ha--oh crap, there he is, everybody be cool. I said be cool. No, I'm not freaking out, you are freaking out and you are RUINING THIS FOR ALL OF US--no, don't say "Ruining what?" as if you don't know--oh god he's looking. Everybody act like you're totally fine and this is exactly how you imagined your life at 20.
People seem to be impressed by this Rob Segedin character because he had four RBI in one game. Did you know Dylan Cozens had five home runs in two days earlier this month? Yeah, it was pretty amazing. I guess four RBI is cute, though. Meanwhile, Yasiel Puig is trapped between worlds and it's considered good fortune around here that Clayton Kershaw *might* return in September.
Rob Segedin: This guy had a .598 SLG in the Pacific Coast League before his promotion, and the Dodgers fans need a hero right now. They've put a lot of their eggs into the Segedin basket, assuming they can rely on him for at least four RBI a night. It's a bold plan.
Justin Turner: The best part about Turner hitting .333 in his last 51 games, or having four doubles and two home runs in the past week, is that it hurts Mets fans.
I was not prepared for a season in which Daniel Murphy (21), Justin Turner (20) combined for 41 HRs -- in early Aug.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 8, 2016
Adrian Gonzalez: One game behind the Giants in the NL West, Gonzalez turning it on is probably a relief. He's hit .296 since the All-Star break, .315 in July, and .429 (through 21 AB) in August. The only way this could be better is if it was hurting Mets fans somehow. Or also if he would take a series off, starting today.
Ryan Howard & Carlos Ruiz: In the last month, the Phillies veteran hit squad has surfaced, with Howard hitting .361 with four homers and three doubles in 36 AB and Ruiz hitting .387 with a stolen base in 31 AB. Yesterday, Chooch drove in Piece to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth. I'm not saying anybody's overreacting, but what's the harm in Matt Klentak's cronies banging out the language of a couple of extensions.
Odubel Herrera: Displeased with his center fielder's output, in San Diego, Pete Mackanin stopped writing Herrera into the lineup to see if he would notice. Now El Torito has five hits in his last 14 AB with a double, home run, and two walks. The Phillies literally tried turning him off and turning him on again. And it worked?
Cesar Hernandez & Aaron Altherr: These two, if we mush some stats together to inflate them, have combined for 16 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6 BB, and 3 SB in the last week. Also, 16 SO. Also, 2 CS (Hernandez both times).
Zach Eflin vs. Julio Urias, 10:10 p.m.
The young Phillies starters may not have a particularly deep reputation, but Urias has only sniffed five innings of work in six of his nine starts. The Dodgers have been helicopter-coaching in regards to his pitch count - he's technically a relief pitcher now - so, whether they deserve to or not, chances are the Phillies are going to get into the Dodgers bullpen early in this one.
After a CGSO of the Pirates, Eflin has thrown ten innings and allowed 13 ER, 15 H, and 7 BB combined in his last two starts. His ERA bounced from 3.40 to 4.77, but everybody's so distracted by Jake Thompson's bad debut that they may not have become aware of this brief, furious decline.
Vince Velasquez vs. Kenta Maeda, 10:10 p.m.
The Phillies needed a deep start from VV last time out, and he did not give it to them, throwing 28 pitches in the first inning (he ended with 93 through 5 IP) and having a short start abbreviated even further by a blister. Velasquez stayed positive, pointing out it was good he noticed the flesh bubble before it filled with blood. Good point, Vince. That is, you know. True.
Maeda's last start wasn't a whole lot better; he went 0.2 innings longer against the Rockies than VV did vs. the Giants, allowed the same amount of ER (2), one more hit (4), one fewer K (5) and three fewer walks (0) than Velasquez. The Dodgers also won the game, skewing the start even further. You'd be amazed how much of a pitcher's reputation is staked to whether the team wins or loses a game based on their performance. This used to be a team sport.
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Scott Kazmir, 3:10 p.m.
Five cycles later and it's time for a Hellickson start again, this time against the Dodgers, a team he has faced three times in his career, lasted only an average of four innings per start, and has a 9.00 ERA.
In the case of Kazmir, there's a distinct pattern to his vulnerability, and True Blue L.A. spotted it.
In 20 starts this season Kazmir has allowed 18 runs in the opening frame, posting an 8.10 ERA in the first. In all other innings, Kazmir's ERA is 3.51.
It's time for the young Phillies hitters to abandon all that patience and discipline for which they are known and, in the first inning, start flailing recklessly the second they step out of the on deck circle.
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