For the second time this season, the Phillies embarked on a six-game road trip that started off in promising fashion and ended poorly. They now return home where they’ve played much better this year, and they’ll be taking on an opponent in the midst of a losing streak. But unless the Phillies solve their issues - on both offense and defense - with runners on base, they’ll continue to lose games.
Record: 19-24, Third place in National League Central (Five games back)
In his first season as a major league manager, David Ross finished in third place in 2020 Manager of the Year voting for leading the Cubs to the National League Central crown. But we should probably discount any accomplishments from that pandemic-shortened season, because in the two years since, Ross’ Cubs haven’t cleared the 75-win mark.
With the Cubs once again sitting below .500, there have been plenty of calls for Ross’ head:
I get that the Cubs aren't gonna win the WS this year, and at this rate we aren't winning the division. What hurts is that we have talent that just is deciding to not perform, and David Ross not knowing how to make a lineup/manage a bullpen is awful as well.— Jacob Zanolla (@jz2016cubs) May 18, 2023
I’m going to predict right now that David Ross will be fired before the end of this season. He can’t fill out a lineup card or manage a bullpen. There’s a reason we lose most close games. #Cubs— Michael J Eddy (@michaeljeddy37) May 16, 2023
And if you like analogies (and who doesn’t?), David Ross:Michael Fulner :: Joe Girardi:David Hale.
Can the David Ross apologists explain this one to me?— CubWin (@CubWin) May 16, 2023
7.50 ERA this season
9.53 ERA in May
David Ross has used Fulmer 3 games in a row and in 6 of the last 8 games. He also leads the team in games pitched with 20.
The last time they met
Desperately needing wins to earn a Wild Card spot, the Phillies traveled to Chicago in late September 2022 to face a Cubs team that was 19 games under .500. The Phillies scored a total of three runs in the series and lost all three games, marking the second time they suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs that season. Sometimes I wonder how the 2022 Phillies even made the playoffs, let alone won the National League pennant.
What’s the deal with the Cubs?
The Cubs lead the National League in on-base percentage, rank second in batting average, and are fifth in slugging percentage. Pitching wise, they’ve allowed the second fewest walks in the league and rank fifth in ERA. Sounds like they should be a good team, right?
Not if you go by the standings. where the Cubs are five games under .500 and enter this series having lost five games in a row.
As we’ve seen with the Phillies over the past few years, sometimes teams get into funks where things don’t go their way, and they seem incapable of winning baseball games. Maybe that is what’s happening here, and the Cubs will continue their losing ways this weekend. But I’m often wary when a team is vastly underperforming its Pythagorean record (24-19) and comes in on a losing streak. It feels like the Cubs are bound to start winning games at some point, and I really don’t want that some point to start on Friday.
Preseason win projections were in the 75-81 range. Their Pythagorean record is 24-19. They have seven players with an OPS+ of 125 or higher. Steele and Stroman have been shoving except in their last starts. Take a deep breath, my man. https://t.co/Zm3jiqxsU9— Michael Canter of Cubs Insider ✨ (@MEdwardCanter) May 18, 2023
Boo this man
Dansby Swanson joined the Cubs this offseason, and despite the change of location, Dansby remains an utterly stupid name.
More of Morel
In that three-game sweep last September, rookie Christopher Morel homered two times. That apparently wasn’t enough for him to make the Opening Day roster for the Cubs which seems like a mistake because all the guy apparently does is hit massive home runs.
Christopher Morel has homered 5 times this season.— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 18, 2023
All 5 have been 400+ ft. pic.twitter.com/ZehZ3ptk7m
Give it some clutch
Corey Seidman did an excellent job of breaking down the main reason why the Phillies aren’t winning baseball games.
The gap in "clutch" from the 2023 Phillies and their opponents has been massive through the season's first seven weeks.https://t.co/g7fH7kuwnO— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 18, 2023
The question to ask is whether this should be expected to continue going forward. It seems unlikely, since “clutchness” has been shown to even out in the long run. I think we’ll eventually see some of those solo home runs that the Phillies hit happen with runners on base, and unless the Phillies’ pitchers are innately unable to handle the reality of a pitch clock, I think we’ll see fewer runners come around to score on them.
Smarty’s tournament of randomness
The Folgers commercial easily got past Fran Dunphy to advance to the next round. That brings up our next matchup:
Many people have opinions on which My Little Pony is best. But the answer is obviously Applejack, as she’s the hardest working of the group and the only one who consistently uses common sense.
#12 The blue hats worn by the 1994 Phillies
In 1994, the Phillies tried to spice up their uniforms by introducing a blue hat variant that would be worn for home day games. However, after losing their first few games in the new lids, the players decided they were bad luck. (Listen to this for more info)
The 1994 Blue Hats -Not a bad looking hat overall but the Phillies jammed them on top of the existing red/white uniforms. Only worn for one year during which they became “bad luck” for a team that was due for a downturn. The team burned them in protest. a big bowl of flakes! 5-1 pic.twitter.com/uQq5l5UZhd— Chris (@RealSenseOfEase) April 7, 2021
Who should advance to the next round? You decide!
Who should advance: Applejack or the blue hats?
#12 Blue hats
Despite neither team winning many games lately, one of them is going to win this series. (Check the math if you don’t believe me.) Based on the talent on the rosters, it should be the Phillies, but I wish I had more confidence in that happening.