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At least they’re not the Mets: Phillies vs. Nationals series preview

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They might not be contenders, but neither team’s players are openly rebelling against the fans!

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
Bryce LOVES playing against the Nationals
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Phillies won three out of four games from a bad Diamondbacks team to sustain their playoff hopes for the time being. They’ll now head to Washington to take on a bad Nationals team, and attempt to do more of the same.

And while we watch these two disappointing teams play, we can take solace that the team’s players haven’t resorted to calling out the paying customers (yet).

Washington Nationals

Record: 55-74 (Fourth in National League East)

The last time they met

As part of an eight-game winning streak, the Phillies visited Washington in early August, and took full advantage of a team that had run the white flag on their season. They feasted on the Nationals poor bullpen and swept the three-game series.

Since then?

Things haven’t improved since then, and the Nats are 6-14 since the last meeting. The “Let’s trade everyone but Juan Soto” strategy may pay off in future years, but for the remainder of 2021, the situation looks bleak for the Nats.

Speaking of Soto

Dear Phillies pitchers,

Please don’t give Soto any good pitches to hit. He walks a lot. That’s okay. Let him walk. Walks are preferable to home runs which is what seems to happen every time a Phillies pitcher gives him a good pitch to hit.

Thanks,

Smarty

Another reminder for Nationals fans

As their team continues to spiral, Nats fans can’t be happy to see Bryce Harper tearing it up. They’re still very bitter about his departure, and will rationalize his departure by saying that they don’t need him because they have Soto in right field.

But what if I told you that a baseball lineup typically includes three outfield spots, and one of these extremely gifted players could have moved to left field?

Personally, I’m very okay with the Nationals not valuing Harper enough to keep him.

Who’s cold?

The trade deadline opened up playing time for 21-year-old second baseman Luis Garcia, and given the additional plate appearances, he’s struggled. He’s batting just .195 over the past two weeks.

I could also mention the entirety of the Nationals bullpen. As mentioned, the Phillies did a lot of damage against them last time, and over the past month, they have the second worst ERA in the league. (In case you were curious, the Phillies are right in the middle of the pack, which is a huge step up for them.)

Losing time to gain ground

The Phillies needed to win the series against the Diamondbacks, and they did. Unfortunately, even after taking three out of four, they’re still 4.5 games out of first place. The Braves have a three game series against the Dodgers while the Phillies are taking on a bad team. If the Phils can’t gain at least one game in the standings during that time, the race might be all but over.

Now let’s talk about the Mets

The Nats are a shell of their former selves, and the Phillies are a disappointment. But the fans of both teams can take solace that the players aren’t actively booing the fans.

You’ve probably seen the stories about the Mets players giving thumbs down when they do something well.

Perhaps the funniest thing about the situation is that the Mets have played so poorly recently, that it took everyone three weeks to even notice what was happening.

It’s one thing for a player to be frustrated in the heat of the moment and lash out at fans who are booing or heckling. But this was a determined effort on the part of Mets players to antagonize the fans. And as far as I can recall, players publicly calling out fans goes well for the players approximately zero percent of the time.

If fans are using abusive language or making personal attacks, that’s a different story, and should be condemned by players. But if Baez and the rest of the players can’t handle simply being booed because they’re playing poorly - and they assuredly are - perhaps they’ve chosen the wrong profession.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Gary Varsho’s first hit as a Phillie came against Mike Maddux. Maddux’s brother also pitched in the majors, and had a slight bit of success. AlwaysSundayInPhilly was first to answer correctly.

This series’ question: The first Nationals team to make the playoffs was the 2012 edition. That team had six players on it who also played a game for the Phillies at some point (either before or after) in their career. Name four of the six.

What to expect

  • Carter Kieboom has disappointed the Nats this year...except when he plays the Phillies (1.098 OPS). He’ll hit another home run this series.
  • Bryce Harper’s league leading OPS will rise further as he continues to torment his former team.
  • Coming off his unfortunate ninth-inning hiccup last time out, Zack Wheeler delivers a strong start...but is out of the game before the ninth.

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

Don’t worry. Even though their World Series win is fast receding into the background, the Nats still do the Baby Shark like it was 2019!