After two games against the first place Rays that didn’t go very well, the schedule-makers have given the Phillies a theoretical break by serving up four games against the last place Diamondbacks. But as we all saw last week, just because you’re playing a last place team, it doesn’t mean victory is guaranteed.
The Braves have established a five-game lead in the East, and the Phillies are starting to run out of games available to cut into that deficit. If they can’t take advantage of four games against one of the worst road teams in baseball, then they might as well call it a season.
Record: 43-85 (Fifth place in National League West)
The last time they met
Ugh. You remember what happened, so we don’t need to rehash that ugliness.
Matched against other bad teams in the form of the Pirates and Rockies, the D’Backs have gone 2-4 since last facing the Phillies. So apparently it is possible to beat these guys.
Nick Ahmed is an excellent defender at shortstop for the Diamondbacks (what’s that like?) having won two Gold Gloves. He’s had some seasons where he was adequate - or even better - with the bat, but 2021 is not one of them. He’s been especially bad lately, with a slash line of .147/.216/.206 over the past two weeks.
Does that mean that he’s due to have a huge offensive series? You bet it does!
While it’s not ideal to be swept by a last place team, it should be noted that the D’Backs haven’t been that bad at home this season, going 27-36 at Chase Field.
One thing we all forgot to consider when we called the Diamondbacks “easy” is that the D’Backs record at home and the Phillies record on the road are pretty much the same.— Leo Morgenstern (@morgensternmlb) August 19, 2021
Arizona at home: 26-36
Phillies on the road: 25-34
On the other hand, they’ve been putrid on the road, going 16-49 in games outside of Arizona. In other words, there is absolutely no excuse for the Phillies not to do well this series.
Please keep in mind that this doesn’t mean they will do well, only that there’s no excuse for them not to do so.
The duality of Rhys
Rhys Hoskins’ bat has been a welcome re-addition to the Phillies’ lineup. But he was never the greatest fielder at first base, and based on Wednesday’s game, his injury has robbed him of almost all mobility.
I began to wonder if there was any possible way to make this situation better.
Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow we could have Rhys Hoskins’ bat in the lineup, but we didn’t have to see him in the field?— Smarty Jones Esq. (@TheSmartyJones) August 26, 2021
And what if we also got to avoid a near-automatic out in the lineup along with it?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if baseball did such a thing???
Sometimes when you push, they push back
Twice in the past week, Joe Girardi has pushed his starting pitchers, sending them out for the ninth inning of games. Both times, the pitcher has given up a home run resulting in a loss. Girardi has received a lot of criticism for these decisions, but I’m not going to jump on the pile.
You could say that once a runner (or two) reached base, it should have been Ian Kennedy time. But if Kennedy had come in and given up the lead, many of the same critics would have said, “Girardi should have trusted his starters and let them finish off what they started!” (Yeah, you know you would have.)
I’ve been on team “Ride the starting pitchers” so it would be hypocritical of me to now cry, “He shouldn’t have left them in!” Both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler were pitching well, and neither had alarmingly high pitch counts. Believe it or not, there was a time when it wasn’t considered blasphemy for a pitcher to remain in the game after 100 pitches.
What a horrible gamble by Joe Girardi to send Wheeler back out for the ninth in a 4-4 game when he’s already at 90-something pitches.— Sam Ficarro (@SamFicarro) August 26, 2021
If you don’t think that starting pitchers should ever face a lineup four times, and complete games should be left in baseball’s past, then just say so. Otherwise, you’re just taking advantage of hindsight when you criticize the manager for these decisions.
Punchable face analysis
Daulton Varsho is the son of former Phillie Gary Varsho, and was named after Darren Daulton. So that makes all the more unfortunate that he has such a punchable face.
I had no recollection of what Gary looked like, but looking at his picture, it seems like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Last series’ answer: Russel Branyan was the starting right fielder for the Devil Rays and hit a home run that day. That didn’t keep the manager for pinch hitting for him with Ty Wigginton. SLDH got them both.
This series’ question: Gary Varsho’s made his Phillies debut on April 29, 1995 against the Pirates. It was a successful debut as he hit a pinch single against a former Phillie who has a more famous relative. Who was the pitcher?
What to expect
- The Phillies will win a game this series! (Probably)
- We’ll get another good start from Aaron Nola, this time without the ninth inning collapse.
- Zach Eflin will make his return to the rotation, but he won’t make it past the third inning.
Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series
As often happens this time of year, there’s some enthusiasm around the Eagles, and I understand why people are talking themselves into the team. If you look at the expected starters, this is far from the least talented team out there. The problem is that most of their good players are on the older side, and there’s little quality depth. Also, the quarterback is a major question mark. If they get good injury luck, and Jalen Hurts plays well, they can make the playoffs. Should we count on that happening? Probably not.