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Matchups, Jerry. Matchups as far as the eye can see...: Phillies vs. Giants preview

Coconut oil for all!

Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

Oh man, this is kind of an important series, isn’t it? These are currently the top two teams in the National League wild card chase, so they’re playing for home field advantage should they end up meeting each other in October for three games. It’s an opportunity for the Phillies to put some distance between themselves and the Giants, which would be nice.

San Francisco Giants

Record: 65-59, 11 12 GB in the National League West; 2 GB of the top Wild Card spot

The last time they met

May 15-17, in San Francisco. The Giants won all three games out west, rocking the Phillies’ starters during. These were the halcyon days of Connor Brogdon and Bailey Falter opening games for the Phillies, of Zack Wheeler struggling still and of Taijuan Walker not even making it out of the first inning. The days were dark, my friends.

Since then?

Well, both teams were below .500 after that series and now they’re the top two seeds in the Wild Card chase. So, I’d say it’s been a solid season for both. The Phillies’ version of 2023 is slightly more disappointing than the Giants since San Francisco wasn’t really picked to be in the conversation for the playoffs after losing out on both of their top free agent pursuits in the offseason.

Instead, they’ve just used matchups the whole way to get to the point they’re at now.

What’s at stake

Like what was stated earlier, this one is about some playoff positioning. The Giants need to get themselves steady after getting pummeled by the Braves behemoth while the Phillies would like to keep some offensive momentum going from the last two games against the Nationals.

We don’t talk about Gabe

Whenever the Giants come to Philadelphia, the focus will always be on Gabe Kapler. He was the manager that ushered in change in the team, their focus on managerial prospects shifting from the stodgy former players who had “paid their dues” in the minors to a modern way of managing, using a cooperative experience with the front office help let them dictate certain matchups by way of lineup construction and reliever usage.

We all know how it ended, so there really is no reason to rehash it all.

Instead, let’s focus on doing what we should be doing: moving on.

We don’t need to talk about Kapler anymore because the success the team has had should have put him away in our minds. They are clearly better off without him, but I would argue his introduction to the franchise did represent their being dragged into the new, analytical age, something this team did need to do. How they went about doing it on the field would probably make for a great book by someone as it clearly did not work, but some of the ideas Kapler and his regime have stuck around the franchise in other ways. We know that the minor league pitching development system is more analytically inclined than ever before and is arguably one of the stronger portions in the game today. I know Kapler the person is loathsome, but the ideas he had (and still has) have some merit.

A debut for a big prospect

Seeing as how they likely didn’t want him to get pummeled in Atlanta, the Giants are using the Phillies as a measuring stick for one of their top pitching prospects.

It’s not as if the Giants can’t use him anyway. The team has used 11 pitchers to start a game this year and don’t really have much in the way of a steady rotation as we have come to know it. They rely on Logan Webb, Alex Cobb and a lot of scotch tape to get themselves through a five day period. Harrison, should he be up to the task, can help solidify the group and give them a third option, something they might need in these dwindling days of summer.

Closing thought

There has been much written so far about the Phillies’ lack of distancing themselves with this part of their own schedule. They’ve played a lot of bad teams lately, but haven’t been able to capitalize and give themselves a cushion big enough to dampen the importance of this series.

But look around at the other teams chasing them down. Do any of them really scare you, make you feel threatened that the Phillies won’t beat them out for a playoff spot? The Giants are probably the only team in this chase I would feel confident enough saying they’ll be playing in October, but everyone else fills me with doubt. If anything, this series represents a chance for the Phillies to secure their grip on the top wild card spot and ensure home field advantage that first round. I want nothing to do with the Giants in San Francisco during the playoffs.