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Welcome to July: Phillies vs. Cardinals series preview

The Phillies hope their June success carries over to a new month

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies need Darick Hall to be for real
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Phillies ended June with a bang, hitting five home runs in their series finale against the Braves. Overall, the month was a successful one for the Phillies, as their 19-8 record got them back to the fringes of contention. Can they follow that up with another strong month of July? Or will they revert back to the form they showed in May when a 10-18 record got their manager fired?

July promises to be a little tougher as they don’t have the same string of weaker opponents that they faced for most of June. And they also won’t have the NL MVP in the lineup. But perhaps the emergence of a new, young power hitter will help offset his absence.

St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 43-35 (Second place in National League Central, one game back)

The last time they met

The Phillies visited St. Louis in late April 2021 and won two out of three. But the series win came at a cost as the finale saw Bryce Harper take a 95 MPH fastball to the wrist and face. The beanball noticeably hurt Harper’s performance for a few weeks and kept his still MVP-winning season from being historically good.

What’s the deal with the Cardinals?

The Cardinals are near the top of the NL Central standings thanks to an offense powered by Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Should their success feel cheapened by the fact that their two best hitters are more associated with other franchises?

Who’s cold?

Rookie utility man Brendan Donovan got off to a good start to the season, but he’s cooled down over the past two weeks. During that span, he’s batting just .213 and has only two extra base hits.

Adam Wainwright?

One of the starting pitchers the Phillies will face this series is 40-year-old Adam Wainwright. You might think that facing an old guy would be a huge advantage for the Phillies, but a season after a top-10 Cy Young Award finish, Wainwright is arguably having an even better season.

I’m not saying that there’s anything suspicious going on here, but Wainwright looked cooked about five years ago. And now he’s putting up low-3.00 ERAs in his forties?

And Pujols too?

Wainwright isn’t the only old Cardinal still hanging around. At age 42, Albert Pujols is serving as a part-time designated hitter. However, he hasn’t been especially good at it. He’s batting just .198 with four home runs.

I suppose if some company wanted to pay me millions to go on a retirement tour, I wouldn’t turn it down. But you’d think that not being able to hit anymore might be a little embarrassing for a one-time great.

Hall of a start

Fun Fact: Every hit Darick Hall has in the major leagues has been a home run!

After an 0-6 start to his career, Hall hit two home runs in his next three at bats. Does this mean that his prodigious minor league numbers are going to carry over to the big leagues, and the Phillies have another legitimate power threat in their lineup?

Being old enough to remember J.R. Phillips hitting two home runs in a game, and how that didn’t portend future success, I’m slightly skeptical. There’s also plenty of evidence that Hall won’t be able to consistently hit left-handed pitching. But for the time being, I see no reason not to have him in the lineup every game the opponent has a righty starting.

Mr. July?

After a terrific thirty days that might earn him Player of the Month honors for the second straight June, there’s concern that Kyle Schwarber might cool off a bit now that the calendar has flipped to July.

Last year, an injury limited him to just two games in July, but for his career, he has a good, but not amazing .819 OPS and 17 home runs over 86 games.


Last series’ answer: Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. both had 49 home runs on the road from 2012 to 2011. Simmonds17 was correct.

This series’ question: Who is the Cardinals’ franchise leader for hits at Citizens Bank Park?

Non-Phillies thought

July has typically ranked relatively low on my list of favorite months. In theory, the weather is nice and hot, and there should be more fun activities afoot. But in actuality, it often feels like most of the good parts of the summer season come before Independence Day, and life hits a bit of a lull for a few weeks after that.

I think I’m going to make a concerted effort to make July more exciting this year. Especially since I’ve now been granted the “gift” of temporary COVID immunity. Bring on the Summer of Smarty!

Closing thought

One guy who probably isn’t sad to see June end is Nick Castellanos (.562 OPS for the month). Maybe his home run on Thursday is a sign that July is going to be much more productive?