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93rd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard

That’s what’s (not) in: Phillies vs. Padres series preview

Last year’s National League runners-up have fallen on hard times in 2023

Juan Soto and Nick Castellanos might soon play in the same outfield every day
| Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Phillies open the unofficial second half of the season against an opponent with whom they share some recent history.

San Diego Padres

Record: 43-47, Fourth place in National League West (8.5 games back)

The manager

Bob Melvin is in his twentieth year as a major league manager. He’s the baseball equivalent of a nice sweatshirt: It’s comfortable and dependable, but you’re probably not going to win the World Series in it.

2022 was the first time a Melvin-led team even made it to the league championship series. He might have made it even further if he didn’t completely botch the endgame in game five of the 2022 NLCS.

The last time they met

You may remember that aforementioned NLCS game five.

What’s the deal with the Padres?

Despite a talent-laden roster, the Padres have fared poorly. They’re four games under .500 despite a Pythagorean record of 49-41 and are six games out of a Wild Card spot.

The offense is confusing. They have stars like Fernando Tatis, Jr, (future Phillie) Juan Soto, and Manny Machado. They hit a decent number of home runs, ranking fifth in the NL in that category, and they lead the league in walks. Yet, they’re only ninth in the league in runs scored. Based on their poor team batting average, it seems that Padres batters either walk, hit a home run, or make an out.

Nola vs. Nola

Since the Padres rely heavily on the longball, this seems like a dangerous game for Aaron Nola who has been susceptible to giving up home runs this season (A league leading 21 allowed). Nola has traditionally had inconsistent results against the Padres who happen to employ his brother at catcher.

Speaking of his brother, Austin is having an even more disappointing year than Aaron. After a few solid seasons, he’s batting just .143 and has been worth -0.4 wins above replacement.

A good test for the offense

The Phillies’ offense disappointed in the first half and based on the array of pitchers they’re scheduled to face this series, that might continue for the first four games of the second half. They’ll have to face Yu Darvish (having a down year but always tough), Blake Snell (only given up three total earned runs since the start of June), and Seth Lugo (Yes, the former Mets reliever who has become a good starter with the Padres).

It looks like they’ll get a small break as the Padres will likely utilize a bullpen game for the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. (I’ll be at that game if anyone wants to stop by and say hello.)

Is Juan Soto a future Phillie?

Between him flying to Philadelphia with the Phillies’ All-Star contingent and Jon Heyman’s speculation (although Heyman originally stated that Soto won a ring in DC with Bryce Harper, so I’d take anything he says with a huge grain of salt), it feels like it is only a matter of time before the Padres outfielder is wearing red pinstripes.

His poor showing in the NLCS aside, Soto has traditionally raked in Citizens Bank Park (Career OPS of 1.121). Hopefully he takes it easy on his future teammates this weekend.

An easy explanation

It’s actually pretty easy to explain why the Padres have underachieved this year. Things have gone horribly wrong for the team ever since this video was made:

That’s a cursed video if I ever saw one.

Smarty’s tournament of randomness

The top seed has fallen! In a huge upset, the eighth seeded Delaware Memorial Bridge took down the “oo-wah-ah-ah-ah-ah” sound at the beginning of Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness!” This is now anyone’s tournament to win!

The final four has been set, so let’s move on to the next round!

#6 - Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play

I don’t think people understand just how rare an unassisted triple play is. There have only been 15 in MLB history.

#7 - Folgers’ “Coming Home for Christmas” commercial

You have to figure that at least one Folgers’ executive is in on the joke with this commercial. I realize that those rich business types can be a bit detached from the public, but surely somebody watched this and was giggling internally.

Who should advance to the finals? Vote now!


What should advance: Bruntlett’s triple play or the Folgers commercial

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    #6 - Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play
    (61 votes)
  • 11%
    #7 - Folgers’ "Coming Home for Christmas"
    (8 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now

Non-Phillies thought


Overall, I thought the movie lived up to the hype, although the ending was jarring. In movie trilogies where they end the second part on a cliffhanger, it usually comes at what feels like a natural stopping point. This movie felt like it just arbitrarily ended it when they realized the run time had gotten too long.

Also, I couldn’t help but think that Captain Stacy is really bad at his job. He believes Spider-Woman killed Peter Parker, which doesn’t make any sense. Surely, he would have learned that the dance was attacked by a giant lizard creature. If he knew the lizard creature was actually Peter - and feels like a post-mortem could have determined that - then Spider-Woman would have been justified in using lethal force to stop him. If he didn’t know that Peter was the lizard, then why wouldn’t he assume that the lizard creature killed him? That seems more logical than a superhero randomly deciding to kill a teenager.

Also, this movie was another example of spider-sense working inconsistently. Spider-Man should never get ambushed, yet his Earth-42 doppelgänger is able to take him out unexpectedly.

But really, those are minor quibbles. It was a great movie and I’m looking forward to the third one.

Closing thought

The Phillies came out of the break poorly in 2022, getting swept by the Cubs, and looking rather meek in doing so. I’m worried that the same might happen again this year. The Padres have likely had this series circled on the calendar, and I don’t think the Phillies will have nearly the same energy.

This has been a recurring theme over the past couple of years, where the Phillies often appear lifeless in what seems like an important series. (Or at least what the fans consider an important series.) Rob Thomson and the other decision makers have consistently prioritized the big picture over any individual game or series, and they’re doing that again here by using Cristopher Sanchez to start on Friday as opposed to Zack Wheeler or Aaron Nola.

In the long-term, it probably does make sense to give their top starters a few extra days off. On the other hand, despite how well he’s pitched lately, opening up the second half with Cristopher Sanchez isn’t exactly a signal that they want to hit the ground running.

Rise and Phight: 10/2/2023

Bring on Tuesday: Phillies 9, Mets 1

Gamethread 10/1: Phillies at Mets