The last week saw the Phillies run roughshod over some of the National League’s lesser lights, going 6-1 against the Reds and Pirates. In theory, the easy schedule continues this week as they travel to Arizona to play a bad Diamondbacks team. But if you recall, the Diamondbacks were even worse last year, and that didn’t stop the Phillies from suffering a sweep when they visited them.
Record: 59-67 (Fourth place in National League West, 29 games back)
Torey Lovullo is in his sixth season as Diamondbacks manager, but it isn’t certain if he’ll get a seventh. In his first season, the D’Backs won 93 games and made the playoffs, but they haven’t come close to matching that success since. The team lost 110 games in 2021, and many managers don’t survive that kind of season even if the roster is short on talent. It seems possible that another losing record could be the death knell for Lovullo’s time in Arizona.
However, it seems that Lovullo still has the fans on his side, as they recognize that the manager hasn’t been given an abundance of talent to work with.
'Give Torey some credit now for holding ship. If anything ownership should be canned.'#Dbacks fans had thoughts on Torey Lovullo showing up on #MLB managers on the hot seat lists. Did they ever ... https://t.co/ocFzdYNsfv— Jeremy Cluff (@Jeremy_Cluff) August 24, 2022
The last time they met
The D’Backs came to Philadelphia in mid-June, which was poor timing on their part, since the Phillies were experiencing their post-Joe Girardi surge. The first two games of the series were the eighth and ninth games of a winning streak for the Phillies before the D’Backs prevailed in a “If the streak is going to end, it’s going to end ugly” 13-1 loss.
Fear the snake
In theory, a series against a team eight games below .500 should be an opportunity to pick up some wins. But there are a few reasons why this series might not be as easy as it seems.
The Diamondbacks have a winning record since the All-Star Break, going 19-15 in that time, and are coming off a three-game sweep of the White Sox. And the Diamondbacks are much tougher at home than on the road. They’re actually .500 in games played at Chase Field.
Diamondbacks just swept the White Sox, are 19-15 since the All-Star break and now are adding the No. 1 prospect in baseball. This is one of the best moments in franchise history. https://t.co/Dt1Jgs3Una— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) August 28, 2022
The D’Backs also have a good rotation. In the three games, the Phillies will face a long-time nemesis in Madison Bumgarner, an excellent starter in Zac Gallen (2.66 ERA), and promising rookie Tommy Henry (3.25 ERA in five starts). We’ve seen that the Phillies lineup can get shut down by good pitching, so it wouldn’t shocking if they don’t go on an offensive rampage over the next few days.
What about the talent?
I mentioned that manager Torey Lovullo wasn’t dealing with an abundance of talent. According to bWAR, their most valuable player is first baseman Christian Walker. Walker has 30 home runs which is good, but you probably don’t want your best player to be a first baseman with an OPS under .800 (Walker checks in at .793)
The team’s lone All-Star was reliever Joe Mantiply, and it typically doesn’t speak well of the roster when your only All-Star is a setup reliever. If any Phillies fans are still upset that Zack Wheeler wasn’t part of the team - although it certainly seems like he needed the break - there’s where your finger should be pointing.
Rookie shortstop Geraldo Perdomo was a top-rated prospect, but he hasn’t adjusted to major league pitching very well. He’s batting .190 on the season, and over the past two weeks, that number is a frightening .093.
Last series’ answer: Andrew McCutchen is the only Pirate with a multi-home run game at Citizens Bank Park. LineDriveGoneAwry was first to answer correctly.
This series’ question: Arizona’s Chase Field opened in 1998. Who was the first Phillies player to get a hit there?
This video by Adam Schefter promoting Papa John’s pizza cracked me up.
Football is back and to celebrate, starting today, @papajohns has introduced football-shaped pizzas, now available nationwide.#PapaJohnsPartner pic.twitter.com/cYtfxQhkEK— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2022
Schefter has worked for ESPN for a long time, which means that any actual reporting or analyzing ability he once had has long since eroded. But he carries himself with such a “So this is what selling out feels like” vibe. Notice how he keeps looking down at the pizza as if he needs to keep reminding himself that, “Yep, I’m doing an ad for a football-shaped pizza.”
Also, considering the size of the corporations involved, this is the best they could do in terms of production value?
The Phillies have been cleaning up against bad teams lately, but I have a feeling they’re due for a slip up here and will lose two out of three.