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Phillies, Pirates meet for entirely skipable battle for Pennsylvania

Not sure who decreed that the control of an entire U.S. state would hinge on some innocuous late season baseball, but, well, here we are.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Phillies

Limping out of our nation’s capital with nary a meaningless win to call their own, a crew of largely uninspiring September call-ups shuffled onto the Megabus Sunday afternoon. How many games under .500 now? Twenty? No? Only 17? Hot damn.

The Pirates

“It’s much more art than science,” GM Neal Huntington explained of the gentle maneuvering he’s had to do to rest young starters without conceding the season. Six games out of a wild card spot, the Bucs aren’t really intimidating anybody but had already managed to force themselves into the playoff picture. Now they have to pretend to want to be there without Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, a couple relievers, and a growing inning count for Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl. What is worth the gamble of a miraculous post season push? Well, beat up on the Phillies for four nights and think it over.

Heavy Hitters

Jung-ho Kang: After coming back from a DL stint that started on August 20 due to a left shoulder injury, Kang has been rebooted with more powerful parts, already with a team-leading four home runs in September.

Josh Bell: This guy can’t stop drawing walks, and everyone’s so excited about it that they’re ruining their perfectly nice old yellow t-shirts.

Jordy Mercer: Look, it’s Pittsburgh’s Freddy Galvis, with the defensive-first skill set and the power from seemingly nowhere. He hit his first grand slam every the other day and remains the team’s loudest cheerleader; or at least was three weeks ago.

Cesar Hernandez: This man is probably on base, right now. Who even cares how or why. He’s got a .422 OBP this month and is tied only with Aaron Altherr in September walks with six. And Altherr is hitting .077.

Freddy Galvis: He’s up to 16 home runs. The other day, the Phillies had him hit fifth. That’s one spot away from “clean-up hitter.” What in god’s name is happening.

Peter Bourjos: Seriously, why are all the non-power hitters power-hitting? Bourjos is slugging .667 this month. He hit a home run the other day. An entire home run.

Probable Pitchers

Gerrit Cole vs. Jeremy Hellickson, 7:05 p.m.

Ivan Nova vs. Alec Asher, 7:05 p.m.

Steven Brault vs. Jake Thompson, 7:05 p.m.

Chad Kuhl vs. Jerad Eickhoff, 7:05 p.m.

Look how beautiful it is when all the start times coincide like that. No useless 1:05 games this time! Take that, baseball!

The Phillies just completed a pass through new-look rotation and it didn’t go so poorly. The one starter who won’t face Pittsburgh, Adam Morgan, has been most encouraging, while Alec Asher’s first appearance was good enough to forget, say, an 80-game suspension. In fact, if the Phillies provided the four or five runs of support that Nationals and Cubs pitchers enjoy, they probably pick up three more wins in September. Which would make them fourteen games under .500. Which means nothing.

Look, just score some runs.

And keep Eickhoff’s curve away from Kang. He can do stuff to those.

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