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But it must have been the wrong time: Phillies vs. Dodgers series preview

Last weekend was the right time to play the Dodgers. The Phillies likely won’t be as fortunate this weekend.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers
If the Dodgers do win, maybe they can at least not make us wait until the 9th inning?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the good times of last week when the Phillies bats were on fire, and they were winning a lot of games against the Mariners and Dodgers? That was fun.

The fun times have since ended. After the Bryce Harper-less offense scored three runs in three games (with all three runs coming in the same game) against the Padres, the Dodgers - currently on a five-game winning streak - are coming to town, presumably with revenge on their minds.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 25-12 (First place in National League West)

The last time they met

It was last weekend when the Dodgers’ pitching staff looked helpless against the Phillies’ offense, and the Phillies took three out of four games. They had a great chance to take all four, but the Phillies’ pitching staff couldn’t preserve a four-run lead in the finale.

Since then?

The Dodgers took out their frustration on the Arizona Diamondbacks, sweeping them in a four-game series.

Who’s cold?

After hitting 36 home runs in 2021, the Dodgers probably expected Max Muncy to have more than three at this point of the season. Combined with his .167 batting average, Muncy is having a very disappointing year.

This is what it looks like when a player is in a slump:

The right time ain’t now

Last weekend, I remarked that sometimes you play a team at exactly the right time, which seemed to be the case with the Dodgers. Their rotation was shuffled due to an injury to Clayton Kershaw, and that seemed to negatively affect the pitching staff. Beyond that, they were making uncharacteristic mistakes, giving the Phillies a few extra scoring opportunities. (Despite all that, they still were able to come back and win the final game!)

Whatever funk the Dodgers may have been in, their five-game winning streak would indicate that they’re no longer in it. If the Phillies are going to win this weekend, they’re probably not going to get much help.

Jet lag blues?

Travelling three time zones is unlikely the main culprit behind the Phillies’ offense vanishing over the past three days, but it probably didn’t help either. The Padres might have had a subtle hidden advantage in that they had already been on the East coast and had presumably already adjusted. (Although it’s really tough to still blame jet lag for Thursday’s lackluster showing.)

This weekend, the Dodgers will be the team forced to make a quick three-hour adjustment to their schedules while the Phillies should more or less be back to normal.

Will this actually matter? Probably not, or at least not beyond Friday night. But considering the way the offense has looked over the past three days, any slight advantage would be welcome.

The return of Bryce?

It probably isn’t entirely coincidental that the Phillies’ offense cooled down as soon as Bryce Harper left the lineup. It’s fair to question why Harper and the Phillies chose for him to get his PRP injection while he was in the midst of one of his hottest stretches ever.

But was there really a good time for that to happen? Yes, the DH has been a godsend for the team (Everyone who cried about it coming to the National League can shut up forever), but the team is better off in the long run if Harper can play right field.

I’m more worried about why the Phillies’ offense has slowed down so dramatically without him. Obviously, a player with two MVP awards is one who is very valuable. But with this many veteran hitters in the lineup, they certainly shouldn’t be so dependent on one player.

Boom or bust

The past two weeks have caused a lot of talk about the Phillies’ extreme “Boom or Bust” offense. There are several theories as to what’s going on. John Stolnis wrote an excellent piece about it, and you can see just how crazy it’s been:

A decade or so ago, when too much of baseball analysis swung in direction of “numbers above all,” there was a sentiment that baseball was actually an individual sport disguised as a team sport. The thinking was that the outcome of each at bat had no relation to the at bats that came before or after.

Thankfully, we’ve come to recognize the flaw in that thinking. The Phillies’ hitters do not come to the plate in a context-free environment, and unfortunately, they seem to feed off the success of one another. The saying “hitting is contagious” exists for a reason, and the Phillies seem to take it to an extreme.

Unfortunately, telling the players, “We need you to be good even when your teammates are sucking,” is probably not going to be successful in fixing this. One thing they could try to do is walk more. They lead the league in slugging percentage but are next to last in walks. On the nights when the ball isn’t flying out of the park - and Major League Baseball is apparently trying to limit those nights - they could stand to be more patient and get a few more runners on base.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Adrian Gonzalez had three multi-home run games against the Phillies from 2006 to 2010. MoButterBakerBlues was first with the correct answer.

This series’ question: Who was the first Dodgers player to ever homer at Citizens Bank Park?

Non-Phillies thought

I realized my tweets are a lot like Kyle Schwarber. There are some moments of greatness, but they’re badly overshadowed by the intense awfulness that surrounds them.

That said, you can follow me @TheSmartyJones. Anyone who follows me over the weekend and comments that you did so because of this preview gets a special mention next time!

Closing thought

Maybe the Phillies “have the Dodgers’ number” in 2022, and we’ll see them win this series. Unfortunately, I think it’s just as likely that the Dodgers win at least two and do so with a gleeful delight at the revenge they are handing out.