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Time to make hay: Phillies vs. Diamondbacks series preview

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The Phillies need to earn wins over a last place opponent

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks
Tyler Gilbert provided a rare highlight for the Diamondbacks this season
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the past six games against the Dodgers and Reds showed who the Phillies really are: A flawed team that can’t quite match up with the better teams in the National League. The good news is that their next three are against a team that is decidedly not among the better teams in the NL. If the Phillies are serious about making the playoffs, they’d better find a way to win these games.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 38-81 (Fifth place in National League West)

The last time they met

The Phillies played a three-game set against Arizona in August 2019 that saw the D’Backs take two out of three. The Phillies starting pitchers for the series were Vince Velasquez, Jason Vargas, and Jake Arrieta, so winning one out of three seems like quite an accomplishment in hindsight.

The manager

Torey Lovullo’s managerial career started off well, as he guided the D’Backs to the 2017 Wild Card and earned the NL’s Manager of the Year award. It seems unlikely that he’ll be recapturing that honor this season, and with the team headed for its second consecutive last place finish, he’ll probably be looking for work after the season.

What’s up with the D’Backs

Not much really. They’ve got the worst record in the league thanks mostly to a pitching staff whose team ERA ranks dead last. The situation is made worse by having a bunch of pitchers on the IL. In fact, they still haven’t even announced starting pitchers for the first two games of the series.

They’re no great shakes on offense either with Ketel Marte being the only real standout. And even his power has abandoned him, with just five home runs on the season, two years after he hit 32 of them. That’s not especially surprising since home runs aren’t exactly the D’Backs’ thing. They only have two players in double digits: Eduardo Escobar (22) and Josh Rojas (11).

The news hasn’t been all bad for Arizona this season, as they recently had a pitcher throw a no-hitter in his debut.

Don’t you wish the Phillies could find guys like that??

Least valuable player

When you’re this bad, you’re going to have lots of good candidates for this title. The pitching staff has been a constant churn of awfulness, with any one individual not standing out much from the rest. So I’ll give this to first baseman Christian Walker. Two years ago, he hit 29 home runs and the D’Backs thought they might have a player on their hand. He’s spent the last two seasons proving them wrong, and checks in with a .637 OPS this season.

Here’s a recent clip of him committing a game-ending error in the field:

Catching up with MadBum

Remember Madison Bumgarner? You may remember him as the postseason hero for those San Francisco Giants teams that frustratingly kept winning the World Series. He’s now taking the mound for the Diamondbacks. The four-time All-Star is a decent mid-rotation pitcher these days - which sadly makes him the closest thing Arizona has to an ace this season. I suppose that with the dry heat, Arizona is a nice enough place to serve as a retirement home.

The scariest thing about Bumgarner is that he’s only 31 years of age. I would have guessed he was nearing 40, but I forgot just how young he was when he first came up.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Carlos Ruiz was the only Phillie to homer in the 2010 NLDS. GBrettFan got it right.

This series’ question: In the Phillies’ first ever game at Chase Field, two of the pitchers who appeared in the game were eventually traded for each other. Who were they?

What to expect

  • Ranger Suarez completes five innings as he continues to get stretched out.
  • Jean Segura’s good career numbers at Chase Field increase when he hits a home run.
  • At some point, the Phillies will make the fans scream, “Why are they having so much trouble beating this awful team?”

Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series

The Phillies haven’t always done as well against the teams they “should” beat over the last few years, but they’ll take at least two out of three here.