That didn’t go very well, did it? Three games against a bad Diamondbacks team should have resulted in at least a couple of wins, but instead, the Phillies came away with zero. They’ll now head to San Diego to face another team that’s had its own share of problems lately.
Record: 67-56 (3rd place in National League West)
The last time they met
The Padres came to Philadelphia in early July and the Phillies took the first two games before Vince Velasquez and Hector Neris ruined Independence Day by allowing eleven runs.
Struggles of their own
The Padres looked like a playoff lock in the first half of the season, but their play since the All-Star Break has made that position much more tenuous. They’re 14-16 in the second half, and while they still currently hold the NL’s second Wild Card spot, they’re only one game up on the Reds.
The Phillies aren’t the only team that’s had trouble beating seemingly inferior competition lately. The Padres also struggled against the Diamondbacks, losing three out of four last week. They followed that up by getting swept in a three-game series by the Rockies.
The Padres learned an important lesson in that series: If you want to avoid getting swept, it’s probably not a good idea to start Jake Arrieta in the final game.
The return of Tatis
The Padres expected to get a boost from the return of injured star Fernando Tatis, Jr. But despite hitting three home runs in the four games since he’s been back, the team is just 1-3. He went 5-12 against Phillies pitching in July, and if the Phillies want to win this series, they’ll need to slow him down.
What about Manny?
Manny Machado - known to Phillies fans as the big free agent the team didn’t sign before the 2019 season - has had recent struggles to match those of his team. He’s got an OPS of just .529 over the past two weeks. It would be great if that could continue for another three games.
Least valuable player
The Padres traded for Adam Frazier last month, hoping that the Pirates’ All-Star would bolster their offense. Before this season, Frazier had never been more than an average offensive player, but the Padres hoped to take advantage of what looked like a career year for him.
Instead, they’ve enjoyed the joys of regression as Frazier’s post-trade numbers are quickly putting his season totals in line with his career averages.
Adam Frazier with the Pirates: .324/.388/.448— Jon Schaeffer (@jonschaeffer) August 18, 2021
Adam Frazier with the Padres: .253/.282/.307
Where’d the bats go?
Remember when pitching was the Phillies’ biggest weakness? In recent weeks, with a few exceptions, the starting rotation has generally kept the team in games, and the bullpen has been non-disastrous. That is a winning formula if you’ve got an offense that can score runs, which is unfortunately something the Phillies haven’t been adept at lately.
The names on the jerseys change, but it seems that the Phillies franchise will always have extended stretches where three quarters (if not more) of the lineup goes cold all at once.
A bad time for a slump.— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) August 19, 2021
120 games in, the Phillies' season can be broken down into 15 stretches of 8 games each.
This most recent 8-game stretch has been by far their worst of the year at the plate so far.@TheGoodPhight pic.twitter.com/NLIVuPIBrM
Part of the problem is that bench players such as Brad Miller and Ronald Torreyes have gotten far too much playing time lately. Those guys are good reserves, but if you play them enough, you’ll quickly see why they aren’t starters. Rhys Hoskins should be returning from the injured list soon, which should theoretically help, but considering his propensity for slumps, he can’t be counted on as a savior.
There’s no excuse for the poor hitting we’ve seen from the likes of Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and Andrew McCutchen lately. (To be fair, Cutch rushed back from injury and hasn’t re-gained his stride.) The good news is that most of these players have track records that indicate that their cold streaks won’t last too long. Let’s just hope they can heat up before the team falls too far in the standings.
Last series’ answer: In the first ever Phillies vs. Diamonbacks game, Curt Schilling pitched the Phillies to a 3-0 win over Omar Daal and the D’Backs. Daal was one of the players the Phillies received in return when the Phillies traded Schilling to Arizona. (I’m going to go ahead and declare the D’Backs the winners of that trade.) Bilzo2 got it right.
This series’ question: The Phillies first game at Petco Park was played on August 30, 2004, and they didn’t wait long to get their first base hit there, as it came in the first inning of the game. Who hit it?
What to expect
- The Phillies’ bats will explode for ten-plus runs in one of these games and follow it up with two or fewer in the next.
- Matt Moore gets the start on Friday and will not pitch as well as he did in his last start.
- On the other hand, it feels like we’re due for a good Aaron Nola start on Saturday.
Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series
NFL teams charging full price for preseason games has long been one of the biggest scams in sports. It’s even worse when teams bench most of their starters like the Eagles did on Thursday. (I’m still not sure what happened with Jalen Hurts. He sure looked healthy in warmups, but there are reports he went to the hospital.)
Is there a reason teams can’t charge half price for these games and then raise the cost for the regular season games accordingly? Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference since fans ultimately pay the same price, but it would feel a lot less insulting to the loyal season ticket holders if they didn’t pay full price to watch Joe Flacco throw a bunch of incomplete passes.