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Late nights in the middle of June: Phillies vs. Diamondbacks series preview

The Phillies will test their mettle in Arizona

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Philadelphia Phillies
Alec Bohm was the hero at the end of the last Diamondbacks series
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After winning five of six against the unimpressive Nationals and Tigers, the Phillies gave some indication that they might be figuring things out when they took two of three from the Dodgers. However, my optimism is slightly tempered since the Dodgers have been a bad road team, and the Phillies didn’t face their best starters in the series.

A series on the road against the first place Diamondbacks should provide a more definitive answer as to whether the Phillies can actually be considered good at this point in time.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 40-25, First place in National League West

The last time they met

A few weeks ago, the Diamondbacks visited Philadelphia, won the first two games of the series, and looked well on their way to sweeping their way out of town by getting out to a 5-0 lead in the finale. The Phillies surprisingly fought back from that deficit thanks to heroics from Trea Turner and Alec Bohm.

Since then?

The D’Backs have been on a roll, going 11-4, and enter the game on a five-game winning streak. Leading the way is rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll who has an OPS of 1.038 over the past month and looks like an early favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.

Stolen mojo

Most people had the Diamondbacks pegged as afterthoughts in the National League West race behind the Dodgers and Padres. Instead, they look like the team to beat. Actually, they look a lot like what we expected from the Phillies: A rotation headlined by two excellent starting pitchers (Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly), a deep lineup with a lot of tough outs, and a bullpen with multiple solid late-inning options.

The only logical explanation is that the Diamondbacks must have somehow stolen the Phillies’ mojo, and therefore, their main goal in this series should be to reclaim it. Winning the series would also be nice, but I think the mojo thing needs to take priority.

By the time I get to Arizona

It feels like I’ve said this about a lot of opposing stadiums (Oracle Park and Coors Field come to mind), but Arizona’s Chase Field has not been kind to the Phillies in recent seasons. The Phillies haven’t won a series in Arizona since 2016. Since then, their record is 4-12, which included a seven-game losing streak. The Phillies finally seemed to snap out of it in the finale of last year's visit, when they won 18-2.

No Bohm cooking?

Alec Bohm got the winning hit the last time these teams played, but his return from the Injured List on Sunday did not go well. 0-4 with three strikeouts and a double play is about as bad a hitting line as a player can produce. The hope is that he’s working through some rust and will start hitting as well as he did the first few weeks of the season.

Much like Maikel Franco before him, Bohm has enough good stretches to make you think he’s a solid offensive player, but when you look at his overall statistics, they’re not actually good. A subpar defender at first and third base needs to do better than a .710 OPS.

The Diamondbacks as an MCU villain


Heading into the season, based on everything we know about their history, we thought the Diamondbacks would be bad. But they’ve surprisingly turned out to be good...unless that’s just an elaborate illusion. It’s possible that by the time all is said and done, they’ll indeed end up being bad as expected.


Bonus Jeanmar Gomez trivia answer: In addition to Jeanmar Gomez, the other pitchers to record saves for the 2016 Phillies were Hector Neris (2), Michael Mariot (1), David Hernandez (1), and Brett Oberholtzer (1). Chappdaddy correctly remembered Neris and Hernandez.

Last series’ answer: Welp, I messed up and asked a question with no actual answer. The only Tiger to ever have a multi-home run game against the Phillies is Miguel Cabrera.

This series’ question: In a 2010 start at Chase Field, a Phillies pitcher gave up four home runs in one start. Who was he?

Brett Oberholtzer?

Unless Baseball Reference is lying to me, there was a pitcher named Brett Oberholtzer who appeared in 26 games for the 2016 Phillies. That’s enough games that I should remember the guy, but I’m pulling a complete blank.

That Ken Giles trade really didn’t work out for the Phillies, did it?

Closing thought

The last time the Phillies headed out West, it didn’t go very well, and most fans were grateful that the games were on late at night and could be easily enough avoided. With three of the four games in this series starting at 9:40, perhaps the Phillies could reward their Eastern time zone-based fans who want to stay up to watch.

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