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Let’s do the opposite: Phillies vs. Brewers series preview

Instead of suffering another letdown, the Phillies should take a hint from George Costanza and take the opposite approach

Milwaukee Brewers v San Diego Padres
Andrew McCutchen has yet to find his hitting stroke in Milwaukee
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Phillies are on a roll. They’ve won four games in a row with the most recent win coming in ultra-dramatic fashion. I might be tempted to say that they’ve turned their disappointing season around, but then I remember that they’ve gone through similar hot stretches in recent seasons, only to counter it with an equally bad cold streak soon after.

Maybe things will be different this time. We can dare to dream that those wild swings went out with Joe Girardi. We can hope that the team will be bolstered by the young players who suddenly find themselves with a longer leash, and they can help the Phillies sustain this success.

Or we can have our optimism squashed yet again by a team that sometimes seems designed for that purpose. With a series against the first place Milwaukee Brewers up next, we’ll soon find out which way things are going to go.

Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 33-22 (First place in National League Central, 0.5 games ahead)

The last time they met

The Phillies hosted the Brewers in late April and lost two out of three. The Phillies had just three hits in the finale and lost 1-0 due to a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Since then?

The Brewers followed up a 15-7 April with a 17-12 month of May, putting them in first place in the Central. Their success has largely been due to a pitching staff with the second-best ERA and most wins above replacement in the National League. However, their hold on first place is tenuous as they come into this series on a three-game losing streak.

Who’s cold?

Andrew McCutchen was a slow starter even in his best days, but he has really struggled this season. He’s batting just .216 with three home runs for the season, and his OPS is a sickly .341 over the last two weeks.

He’s not the only former MVP-winning outfielder on the Brewers who is having a rough time. Christian Yelich hasn’t been much better with an OPS of .413 over that same two-week span, and he’s hit one home run over the past month.

All or nothing

The Brewers’ offense is almost entirely dependent on the home run as they lead the NL in that category but rank just twelfth in on-base percentage. They are seventh in the NL in runs scored, so it seems clear that the key to beating them is by keeping them in the park.

That may be easier said than done because the power is well-distributed among the roster, with nine players having hit at least five home runs, but only one player (Rowdy Tellez) in double digits.

The Brewers might have an unexpected power source in one of their rookies however...

It’s not a lie if you believe it

The Phillies won’t be facing Brewers starting pitchers Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta this series on account of them both being on the injured list. Instead, they’ll face rookie Jason Alexander, making his second start of the season.

Based on his picture and age, I am working on the assumption that he is not the same guy who played George on Seinfeld. Will that stop me from referencing George in any tweets I make during the game? Of course not. (I’m also pretty sure he’s not the guy who was briefly married to Britney Spears.)

The Phillies did a great job of shutting down dual-threat Shohei Otani this past weekend, so if Alexander does pick up a bat, I’m confident that they’ll be able to neutralize him as well.

Everyone’s doing something. We’ll do nothing

Alexander pitched well in his Major League debut, allowing two earned runs in seven innings. (Can you imagine Joe Girardi allowing a rookie pitcher to go seven innings? I feel it’s amazing when Zack Wheeler is kept in the game past the sixth!)

Some fans are likely feeling nervous because there’s a belief that the Phillies always struggle against unknown or rookie starters. (It’s kind of how Eagles fans are always terrified of rookie quarterbacks due to the “Joe Webb game” in 2010, even though Webb didn’t even play that well that day, and they’ve mostly feasted on rookies and bad quarterbacks since then.)

I can recall plenty of games where they hit well against unknown or rookie guys, and I think the real problem is just overall inconsistency. They can look either great or awful against pitchers of any caliber or level of experience.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: The three Angels pitchers who would eventually join the Phillies organization were Blake Parker (One reliever from 2020 the Phillies actually should have kept), Cam Bedrosian, and Bud Norris (with the team in Spring Training 2020 but didn’t make the team). EbbyCalvinLaLoosh got two of them.

This series’ question: Over the past ten seasons, two Phillies players have had multi-home run games at Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Who were they?

Stott to trot?

Is it too much to hope that his good weekend is a sign that Bryson Stott is finding his footing in the major leagues? Is it wrong to expect a Phillies prospect will actually live up to the hype? With Jean Segura injured, and Joe Girardi deposed, the second base job should be his for the next few months. I want to see him continue to prove he deserves it.

Closing thought

A dramatic victory followed by an off day has been a consistent formula for a Phillies letdown over the past few years. I want them to show me that things will be different this time by coming out hot and scoring multiple runs in the first few innings. Then maybe we’ll have some hope that this will indeed be the summer of George the Phillies.