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Sickly: Phillies vs. Padres series preview

The Phillies’ offense - as well as the author - hopes healthier days are ahead

MLB: San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies
Facing Yu Darvish may not cure what ails the Phillies’ slumping hitters
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

You may have noticed that I didn’t write a preview for the Rangers series. That was partly because it was just a two-game series against a team the Phillies had recently played, and partly because I’ve had COVID, and I wasn’t feeling up to it.

Now that I’ve officially contracted everyone’s favorite coronavirus, I can confirm that it sucks. Maybe this particular variant is “just the flu,” but you know what? Having the flu isn’t an enjoyable experience! Between the inability to regulate my body temperature, the dry cough while I’m laying down, and the mouth sores that can apparently be a side effect, (Here’s something that isn’t fun: Having a canker sore the size of a penny on your tongue!) I have had a rather unpleasant week.

The Phillies haven’t done much to make me feel better as their play has basically matched my state of being. I started to feel congested and tired on Saturday, and while the Phillies won, it wasn’t a pretty effort. Then when I was feeling my worst, the Phillies played two awful games of baseball. I was a little better on Wednesday, and so were the Phillies, but it still wasn’t a great showing.

I’m recovering - albeit slowly. Can we hope that my improving health will mean that the Phillies’ lineup will start hitting the ball well again? They’ll need to, because they’re about to face one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

San Diego Padres

Record: 44-27 (Tied for first place in National League West)

The last time they met

The Padres visited Philadelphia in mid-May and all three games in the series were shutouts. The Padres blanked the Phillies in the opener and finale, while Zack Wheeler led the Phillies to a 3-0 win in the middle game.

Since then?

The Padres have excelled since the last series, going 20-13, good enough to give them a share of first place in the NL West. Oddly, their last three series have all been sweeps. First, they swept four games at Wrigley Field. Then they went to Colorado and lost all three. They followed that up by returning home and beating the Diamondbacks three straight times.

Timing, not power

The Padres’ offense is an example of getting hits when it counts. They are fourth in the National League in runs scored, mostly because they have the fourth best on-base percentage. They don’t hit a lot of home runs - their total of 62 is second fewest in the league - but they get a lot of runners on base and get those runners home at a solid rate. (I don’t have any official numbers in front of me, but I’ll guess they do better than the Phillies with the bases loaded.)

Bad timing

The Phillies’ offense has struggled recently, and several players seem to be having a competition to see who the worst of the lot can be.

Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto’s disappointing seasons have continued, Rhys Hoskins’ hot streak appears to be over, and after a brief burst of competence, Bryson Stott once again looks unable to hit major league pitching. But the worst of the group has been Odubel Herrera, who is literally 0-for-the road trip.

I wouldn’t expect things to improve much over the next four days. The Padres have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, and here are the scheduled starters for the series: Joe Musgrove (1.59 ERA), MacKenzie Gore (3.64), Blake Snell (5.46), and Yu Darvish (3.17). The game against Snell seems like a brief respite, but it’s not good when your best shot at victory is against a 29-year-old with a Cy Young Award to his credit.

Maybe the tough matchups are a blessing in disguise. Perhaps facing top notch competition will cause the Phillies’ struggling hitters to raise their performance to the level indicated by the back of their baseball cards. After all, the Phillies had one of their best offensive series when they visited the Dodgers and their similarly strong pitching staff.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we’re about to watch four games where the Phillies continue to get almost nothing going.

What can brown do for you?

I came across this picture of 1980’s TV star Gary Coleman in a Padres uniform.

I don’t know why anyone thought that was a good look. Brown is just a bad color for a baseball uniform, and you can’t convince me otherwise. For some reason, after going with a blue-based color scheme for many years, someone in the Padres organization became nostalgic for having their players look like poop and brought back the brown.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Chicago Cubs
I mean, no
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Raul Ibanez hit six home runs at Nationals Park in 2009. SLDH was first with the correct answer.

This series’ question: Who is the Padres’ franchise leader in home runs?

Non-Phillies thought

COVID got me pretty good, despite being vaccinated and boosted. If you’re a vaccine skeptic, you might think that’s reason not to get the vax. But considering how poorly I’ve felt at times, I wonder if I would have ended up in the hospital if I didn’t have the extra protection.

Closing thought

The Phillies seem to do well in nicer weather, so the hope is that the pleasant San Diego climate will cure what ails them. As for what ails me, I’ll continue to hydrate and down cough drops, and hopefully I’ll be close to normal again soon.