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Our manager’s crazy, he always smokes dust: Phillies vs. Giants series preview

The Phillies head to San Francisco for another matchup against their former manager

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks
Gabe Kapler has yet to make the Phillies regret firing him
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

After taking two out of three in Colorado (with some near fisticuffs to boot!), the Phillies make their second trip of the season to California. This time they’ll head to the northern part of the state to take on their former manager who hasn’t been able to replicate his success from two years ago.

San Francisco Giants

Record: 17-23, Fourth place in National League West (8.5 games back)

The manager

Gabe Kapler is now in his fourth season with the Giants. The Kapler-helmed Giants overachieved with 107 wins in 2021 but that total dropped to 81 last year and they are struggling so far this season.

Sounds like there’s some Kapler fatigue going on in San Francisco:

I maintain my stance on Kapler: He was not a good manager in Philadelphia. A lot of fans really wanted him to succeed because they were so excited that the team was finally embracing analytics in their decision making, but a bad manager armed with analytics is still a bad manager.

I’ll admit that he wasn’t set up for success here. He was done zero favors by the ineptitude of Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak, and I’m always wary of hiring a first-time manager since they often have massive learning curve, and that seems especially true for a guy like Kapler who came in with a lot of grandiose ideas.

Failure can be a teacher, and getting fired might prove beneficial for him in the long run, although he still hasn’t shown he can properly handle a clubhouse. While his original replacement in Philadelphia turned out to be the wrong choice, those “The Phillies will regret firing Gabe Kapler” predictions have yet to come true either.

The last time they met

The Phillies’ playoff push in September 2022 didn’t start off well as the Phillies headed to San Francisco for a three-game set. In the first game, Kyle Gibson got rocked. In the second, Noah Syndergaard fared only marginally better. And in the third, the Phillies wasted a comeback in the eighth inning when David Robertson gave up a game-losing home run in the ninth.

The good news is that all of those pitchers are now ex-Phillies.

What’s the deal with the Giants?

They’re six games under .500 and are currently on a three-game losing streak. Most of their struggles have come on the road (7-13), although the .500 record at home isn’t all that imposing.

The Giants hit a lot of home runs, ranking second in the NL, but that’s about the only thing they’re exceptional at. They’re eighth in runs scored, and eighth in ERA. They have one of the worst bullpens in the majors, so if the Phillies can get their starters out of the game relatively early, they’ll have a decent chance.

Unfortunately, that won’t be easy since the Giants have one of the best starters in the league right now...

Is Alex Cobb really that good?

Alex Cobb has been a cromulent #2/#3 starter for most of his career, so naturally, at age 35 he’s having a career year and leading the NL in ERA. If you put a lot of stock in FIP, then it’s not that surprising, since he’s been under 3.00 the past two seasons. But even if you thought he was underrated before, I don’t think anyone predicted a sub-2.00 ERA. Ironically, if you use FIP as a predictor, his ERA is probably due to go up some time soon.

It would be nice if that “soon” happened this week, although that doesn’t seem too likely. He’s made three career starts against the Phillies and has fared rather well. He shut them out on just three hits over seven innings last year.

The Giants as an MCU villain

Arthur Harrow

Harrow used to be Moon Knight before disagreements with his boss (The Egyptian god Khonshu) caused him to end up working for a different god. Harrow’s unorthodox beliefs and questionable methodology has caused many to call him insane, while others think he is a genius and have provided him with a cult following. And much like Harrow now seeks to judge others, the Giants sought to have Judge play for them. (Not all of these comparisons are going to be winners, okay?)

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Before Matt Vierling’s five-hit game against the Blue Jays on September 21, 2022, the last Phillie to have a five-hit game against the Blue Jays was J.T. Realmuto the day before. Weird. Nobody got it.

This series’ question: In the Phillies’ last game against the Giants, they were able to tie the game in the eighth thanks to a three-run home run by what player?

Non-Phillies thought

I hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day. And I hope the failures of the local sports teams didn’t ruin the holiday. In a way, it was nice of the Phillies to turn in their worst effort of the week while many fans were distracted.

Closing thought

The Phillies need to make sure Sunday’s loss was an isolated incident. The recent five-game winning streak was preceded by a six-game losing streak which was preceded by a four-game winning streak. Now that I’m focusing all my sports energy on them, I could do without another losing streak.

Rise and Phight: 3/1/2024

Gamethread 2/29: Phillies at Blue Jays

2024 season preview: Four All-Stars in the infield?