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Conventional logic need not apply: Phillies vs. Braves series preview

Don’t try to understand the Phillies. They don’t make sense.

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins
Nick Castellanos, hearing the boos
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

That sweep in Miami got us feeling just a little too comfortable, didn’t it? The Phillies finished the “first half” by winning three games in a stadium where they haven’t often succeeded, and combined with the subsequent four days off, the team went a good week and a half without doing anything to give the fans a sense of angst. And for the briefest of moments, we might have forgotten just how annoying it can be to be a Phillies fan.

So much for that. The sweep at the hands of a weak Cubs team went a long way towards erasing whatever good feelings fans harbored for the team. The defense was bad, the offense was quiet, the manager still seems to believe Jeurys Familia is usable, and one of the team’s premier free agent signings is not only still slumping but also got into a confrontation with a reporter.

The Phillies will now host a team with a much better record than the Cubs. Does this mean they’re doomed for more failure? Not at all. If you’re unfamiliar with the team, you might try to apply conventional logic when trying to determine if the Phillies will win a game or a series. But this team doesn’t operate based on conventional logic, so your guess is as good as mine as to how they’re going to do over the next three days.

Atlanta Braves

Record: 58-39 (Second place in National League East, 1.5 games back)

The media scuffle

I’m sure you’ve heard about the whole Nick Castellanos/Jim Salisbury/Matt Gelb/Jamie Apody situation that went down this weekend. If you really want to read more about it, Kevin Kinkead of Crossing Broad does a good job of recapping the entire situation.

I agree that nobody comes off especially well here, and that includes every single middle-aged white male sportswriter who felt the need to rally to Jim Salisbury’s defense.

As his own partner mentioned on their shared podcast, it felt like Matt Gelb definitely went too far in calling out Jamie Apody. If Matt really wants to call out something that’s disgraceful, he could mention the amount of Phillies coverage The Athletic provided while he was on leave.

Let’s just keep adding to that likeability, Phillies

Remember when Pete Rose was going to be a member of the Phillies’ Wall of Fame, but the team rescinded the invitation? Apparently, the team has decided that five years is enough time for the fans to hopefully have forgotten about all that.

It’s nice that the team asked his former teammates what they thought about Rose’s inclusion, but maybe they should have also queried some people who aren’t old baseball players for their thoughts?

Good opponent? Bad opponent? It doesn’t matter!

There was a lot of talk about the Phillies’ “easy” schedule in the second half of the season, and how that would give them an advantage over the other teams fighting for a playoff spot. But as we saw this past weekend, the Phillies don’t consistently beat the bad teams. The starting pitchers the Phillies faced this past weekend were Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, and Drew Smyly. None of those three garnered much consideration for the All-Star Game, and the Phillies only managed seven runs for the series.

The good news is, the Phillies are just as inconsistent against the good teams. It doesn’t matter that they just got swept by a bad team, and now have to face a much better team. It wouldn’t shock me if the Phillies score seven runs on Monday night against Max Fried who was chosen for the All-Star Game!

Way too Familia

One of my biggest complaints with Joe Girardi was that he didn’t seem to have any concept of when it was appropriate to use certain relievers. It was like either the concept of “high leverage” didn’t exist to him, or he thought guys like David Hale or James Norwood were better than they actually were.

Rob Thomson has been much better in that regard...except when it comes to Jeurys Familia. Familia has shown a consistent inability to get hitters out this season (and last season for that matter), yet Thomson has been deploying him in the “We’re losing, but we can prevent the game from getting out of hand” spots. On Friday night, Familia was brought into the game while the Phillies’ deficit was still manageable, and Familia made it far less manageable.

Hopefully when Sam Coonrod is able to return, that will mark the end of Familia’s tenure with the team. But the team doesn’t even have to wait until then. Mark Appel didn’t embarrass himself in his brief stint with the team. Why not give him a shot?

The Braves? Who cares?

You may have noticed that I haven’t discussed the Phillies actual opponent in this series. And you probably don’t care either. The Phillies and Braves have about 20 series against each other every year, and they’re just not that interesting a team to write about that many times. I used to amuse myself by tweaking Braves fans - and they were always good at taking the bait - but after a while, it becomes tiresome riling up a bunch of thin-skinned nitwits.

But because this preview is ostensibly about the Braves, here’s your quick summary of their 2022 season: They’re currently in possession of the first wild card spot, Ronald Acuna, Jr. is back from injury, but not hitting like he did before last season, and Dansby is still a stupid name.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: In Mike Schmidt’s four home run game, Garry Maddox and Bob Boone also went deep. SLDH named them both.

This series’ question: Entering the series, Max Fried has made five starts at Citizens Bank Park. In how many of the five did he earn a win?

Closing thought

The Phillies have three more series against the Braves remaining after this one. By the last one, I might just do a deep dive on Stranger Things 4. So, if you want to avoid spoilers, you’d best get all caught up soon.

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