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You blew it: Phillies vs. Cubs series preview

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The Phillies season continues, but most of the city doesn’t care

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two
They’re all cheering for the Eagles now
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Even in the team’s best years, it’s difficult for the Phillies to hold the city’s attention once the Eagles take the field. When the Phillies lose three out of four to one of the worst road teams in the majors on the same weekend when the Eagles have an exciting season-opening victory...let’s just say we’re probably going to hear a lot more E-A-G-L-E-S cheers from the fans at Citizens Bank Park. Assuming they even bother to show up in the first place.

The Phillies still technically have a shot at the playoffs. The remaining schedule is easy, and they’re still somehow only 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot. But after what we saw this weekend, does anyone really think they have a playoff push in them? And if they somehow do make a push, will more than a handful of fans in the city even notice?

Chicago Cubs

Record: 65-79 (Fourth place in National League Central)

The last time they met

The Phillies traveled to Wrigley Field in early July, and the bats found the “Friendly Confines” to be quite hospitable. They averaged almost ten runs per game in winning three of four. Will we see a similar output this week? Considering they won’t be facing Jake Arrieta this time around, probably not.

What’s new with the Cubs?

Not much. After hovering near the .500 mark for most of the first half, the Cubs tanked after the All-Star Break, and went a combined 16-36 in July and August. They wisely decided to be sellers, and traded away names like Craig Kimbrel, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant.

They gave their fans a brief burst of happiness last week when they won seven in a row, but after losing three straight to the Giants this weekend, that success seems like a distant memory.

Least valuable player

Bouncing between the minors and majors, reliever Trevor Megill has only appeared in 22 games, but he’s managed to pack a lot of badness into those 22 appearances. He’s got a 9.68 ERA, and in his most recent appearance, gave up three runs without recording an out.

Bryce can’t do it all

Bryce Harper is having one of the best offensive seasons in team history, and the team is going to waste it because nobody else on the team can hit well with any consistency. A hitter as good as Harper should lift the rest of the lineup, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often. We already know about Harper’s many solo home runs, but I’m curious how many times he’s been left on base (That’s your cue, Schmenkman).

Maybe we can take solace by remembering that the Phillies fell short of the playoffs in Ryan Howard’s amazing 2006 season, but went on to win the division the next five years. Because that’s what’s going to happen here, right?

Goodbye, Vinny

It seems that we may have seen the last of Vince Velasquez as a member of the Phillies. Five years after his 16 strikeout game (He’s the biggest “one-hit wonder” since a-ha), the Phillies have designated him for assignment, and will probably move on from him this offseson. It’s kind of sad that when March rolls around, I probably won’t get to write yet another article sarcastically wondering if Vinny was going to finally “put it together” next year. (I say “probably,” because I can’t completely rule out the team bringing him back on a minor league deal as rotation depth.)

I’m actually going to sort of defend Velasquez here. I thought he was actually a fine option as the team’s “sixth” starter this year, because generally, anyone you find for that role isn’t an especially good pitcher. And he did give them a few quality starts at first before unsurprisingly regressing to the same disappointment he’s always been.

The larger problem was that the team’s projected fourth and fifth starters sucked, and the young guy who they envisioned being a boon turned out to be anything but. When you have Vince Velasquez start 17 games for you, you’re going to end up with Vince Velasquez results.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Former Rockie Todd Jones blew the save in the Rockies’ first game at CBP. SteveH2331 got it right.

This series’ question: In 2016, a Cubs hitter had a 4-4 day at Citizens Bank Park. This player also has multiple two-hit games against the Phillies this season. Who is he?

What to expect

  • Poor attendance and Eagles cheers.
  • First baseman Frank Schwindel has produced at a Harper-like level since coming to the Cubs in a midseason trade. Seems like just the type of guy who will kill the Phillies this series.
  • The bullpen game’s turn comes around again this series, but it actually works out well for them this time.

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

As I said last week, I think the Eagles’ season hinges on Jalen Hurts and good health. Week one went well for both, and when you combine that with a bad opponent, you get a convincing win. The team is still healthy, so if Hurts can turn in another good game, they have a good chance of beating a 49ers team that I don’t think is anything special.