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Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview: July 20 & 21

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After taking two of three from Boston out of the All-Star break, the Yankees get to face a lesser team in the midst of the club’s most important stretch of the season. Not that the Phillies are a bad team or anything, but rather, they’re not on the level of the Astros, Red Sox, or Rays. Those are the teams the Yankees really need to make their hay against during this stretch, and so far, so good.

Hopefully, the Yankees have more success against Philly than they did last month. As you may recall, the Phillies hosted and swept the Yankees in a two game weekend series in June. They were ugly losses, too. Jameson Taillon and Domingo Germán both had awful starts in that series.

Tonight begins another quick two gamer against the Phillies, this time at Yankee Stadium. Let’s refamiliarize ourselves with Joe Girardi’s ballclub entering this week’s matchup.

Their story so far

Philadelphia is in the thick of a tight NL East race. Four teams are within six games of each other at the top of the standings, with Philly the closest (2.5 games back) of the first place Mets.

No team has been able to create any separation in that division this year. In fact, since June 13, the Mets have played .500 ball and the Phils have played one game over .500. The reason I cherry picked that date? It marks the end of the two game series the Yankees and Phillies played at Citizens Bank Park last month.

Philadelphia would be in much better position if they had some semblance of a decent bullpen. Girardi just doesn’t have very good options to call upon, as evidenced by the following:

  • -2.85 Win Probability Added (3rd-worst in MLB)
  • 60 Melt Downs (4th-worst)
  • 23 Blown Saves (Worst)

Yikes! Clearly, getting to Philly’s ‘pen early will be the key for the Yankees in this brief two game set. That’ll be a bit of a challenge against Aaron Nola, who gets the ball this evening and shut down the Bombers earlier this year.

So other than that horrendous bullpen, the Phillies have a pretty solid squad. Zack Wheeler (who the Yankees miss this series) and Nola make a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and although the offense hasn’t been great (4.54 runs per game, just above the league’s 4.49 average), there are some big bats in their lineup to be reckoned with.

Injury report

PlayerPositionInjuryStatusEstimated Return
Alec Bohm3BCOVID-19COVID-19 ILTBD
Odúbel HerreraOFAnkle Tendinitis10-day ILEnd of month
Matt JoyceOFStrained lower back10-day ILEnd of month
Roman QuinnOFRuptured achilles60-day IL2022
Aaron NolaRHPUndisclosedCOVID-19 ILTBD
Chase AndersonRHPUndisclosedCOVID-19 ILTBD
Sam CoonrodRHPForearm tendinitis10-day ILEnd of month
Seranthony DominguezRHPTommy John surgery60-day ILSeptember
JoJo RomeroLHPTommy John surgery60-day IL2022

Spotlight: Ranger Suárez

As awful as the Phillies’ bullpen has been, one guy has emerged as the team’s fireman: Ranger Suárez. The 25 year-old lefty has spent time on Philadelphia’s roster in each of the last three seasons, but hasn’t firmly entrenched himself until this year. Suárez has a microscopic 1.22 ERA in 37 innings this year and has seen more save opportunities of late in Girardi’s Closer Committee.

The southpaw misses bats at a good clip (27.3 percent strikeout rate), but he’s found a ton of success limiting hard contact this year. Check out these Statcast percentiles:

He’s elite at inducing soft contact while maintaining an above average strikeout rate in spite of what appears to be mediocre stuff. Suárez mostly relies on a sinker-changeup combination. He gets most of his whiffs on his changeup (41.6 percent), but the offering can also generate grounders (55.6 percent). The sinker, meanwhile, isn’t a swing-and-miss pitch but does garner a ton of worm burners (73.2 percent). In total, Suárez owns a 65 percent ground ball rate, placing him in the top-10 of big league relievers this season. Pair that with excellent exit velocities and it’s no wonder he’s been a huge success out of Philadelphia’s bullpen.

So, the Phillies appear to have found one good reliever. A handful of other good options could go a long way for them. But as we’ve seen in the past, particularly with his Tigers teams, Team President Dave Dombrowski has struggled to build good bullpens before. At least they have found something in Suárez.

Projected Lineup:

  1. Jean Segura, 2B (.315/.367/.442, 120 wRC+) — Hasn’t hit .300 since 2018, when he completed his third straight year at the mark or better.
  2. JT Realmuto, C (.274/.370/.452, 124 wRC+) — Good start to his five year contract with Philly.
  3. Bryce Harper, RF (.283/.380/.519, 141 wRC+) — Kinda hard to believe that this is just his age-28 season.
  4. Andrew McCutchen, LF (.229/.351/.441, 115 wRC+) — Has a 135 wRC+ since May after a dreadful first month (60 wRC+)
  5. Didi Gregorius, SS (.221/.274/.405, 80 wRC+) — Has 4 homers in 51 plate appearances since returning from the injured list on July 2nd.
  6. Rhys Hoskins, 1B (.233/.314/.481, 113 wRC+) — Had a 15.3 percent career walk rate entering 2021, but has a 9.7 percent mark this season.
  7. Brad Miller, DH (.247/.333/.451, 111 wRC+) — Has a 119 wRC+ and 29 homers in 524 plate appearances since 2019.
  8. Ronald Torreyes, 3B (.262/.293/.376, 82 wRC+) — Manning the hot corner with Bohm sidelined.
  9. Travis Jankowski, CF (.375/.474/.500, 167 wRC+) — Just 60 plate appearances.

Bench:

  • Andrew Knapp, C (.168/.234/.248, 34 wRC+) — Far cry from last year’s 133 wRC+
  • Nick Maton, INF (.265/.328/.398, 99 wRC+) — Served as a pinch hitter Sunday, but is dealing with a finger laceration
  • Luke Williams, INF/OF (.277/.329/.385, 96 wRC+) — Has played every position except first base and catcher

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 7:05pm eastern:

RHP Aaron Nola (88 ERA+)

Nola tossed 7.2 shutout innings against the Yankees in June, but has been pretty bad ever since. He posted an 8.35 ERA in his next four starts before hitting the COVID-19 injured list. Tonight will be his first game back. (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Domingo Germán (91 ERA+)

Germán’s last three outings have been out of the bullpen, but he returns to the rotation tonight. He got shelled facing Nola back in June, surrendering 7 runs in 4.1 frames against the Phillies. (Stats vs. Phillies)

Nola.

Tomorrow, 7:05pm eastern:

UPDATE: Ignore the below. The Yankees will call up Asher Wojciechowski to start, apparently. The Phillies are going with a bullpen game. I’m sure the Yankees will go to their ‘pen early, too.

TBD (likely LHP Matt Moore 76 ERA+)

Moore and Zach Eflin started a double header on Friday, so either are on regular rest for this game, though Roster Resource projects Moore to get the ball. Moore has not been good (5.25 ERA, 5.37 FIP), though he does have a 3.06 ERA in his last four starts, albeit just 17.2 innings. (Stats vs. Yankees)

TBD (likely Deivi García 69 ERA+)

As others have pointed out, García is lined up to make a spot start tomorrow. He’s been pretty bad in Triple-A this year and is walking a ton of batters (15.4 percent). Deivi’s one of the few prospects to actually take a step back in what’s been a banner year for the farm system otherwise.

Moore.

Bullpen Status

PitcherMondaySundaySaturdayFriday
Ranger Suárez (L)2419
José Alvarado (L)16
Archie Bradley919
Héctor Neris1421
Connor Brogdon26
Brandon Kintzler
Bailey Falter (L)5
JD Hammer16
Enyel De Los Santos15
Cristopher Sánchez (L)
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20 Comments

  1. Mungo

    Wojciechowski pitching to Jankowski should be fun for Sterling.

    Beyond that, Wojciechowski has been very bad in the Majors, and he he’s been bad at Scranton. I hope they have rested and ready arms in the pen. They’ll likely need them.

  2. This is winning baseball-scratch out a couple of runs using speed and do something with pitches that can be handled like the bomb Sanchez hit.

    Gardner’s HR was just a good piece of hitting, he got on top of a fastball up in the zone.

    Greg Allen is finding a permanent place on the roster, his speed sure looks like a sustainable weapon.

  3. dasit

    should be fun listening to sterling mangle “wojciechowski”

  4. novymir

    Florio called up, and in lineup tonight

  5. The Original Drew

    Remember when the Yankees traded for Stanton and said that at the end of the day compared to Harper wherever he signed the next year that he would be a steal in terms of production and dollars?

    Those were the days.

  6. Rocky

    The quality of writing has plummeted. Typos galore. And what kind of analysis is pointing out that a guy hasn’t hit .300 in … two years? lol.

    • Derek

      You don’t have to read the blog.

      • Rocky

        A+ retort. Put some of that energy into proofreading.

        • Derek

          Put some energy into not being a prick about free content we don’t owe you. Enjoy the ban.

          • Tim Loceddardstro

            You do God’s work, Derek. Pay no attention to the hecklers.

      • Mikey

        Can we get RAB back please or some kind of commenting system like Disqus? That was incredibly fun.

        • Macho Man "Randy Levine"

          RAB was fun in the pre-LoHud days. After that, it kinda sucked, at least in the comments

          • Mikey

            Lol idk I remember having a blast on RAB with its Disqus system. I was on there very frequently from around 2015 to when they shut things down in 18 was it? I remember seeing your name there..

          • Macho Man "Randy Levine"

            Yes, I was an RAB old-timer. I’d been going there since sometime in 2010, I believe.

          • RetroRob

            Good to see you’re alive and kicking, Pat. I mean Randy!

            Yeah, I’m not sure if it was the LoHud invasion, or the Disqus commenting system that did in RAB. RAB 2007-2014 was peak quality. I think LoHud forced Mike to get a more robust commenting platform, in came Disqus and that caused issues. So while I don’t think it was LoHud directly, it indirectly led to the downfall!

        • JJ Dools

          I really miss those days. It was so nice to have that active community discussing everything, especially the game threads with the live chat. I haven’t found a replacement!

    • JJ Dools

      I love this site, the writing, and the writers. So I will ignore this useless comment from Rocky. As a NYer living overseas, I find this content a godsend that keeps me connected to the team I love. Keep up the good work guys!

  7. Tim Loceddardstro

    Must win series, Derek, and with these kids injecting life back into the team we just may have a chance. Only thing I worry about is Girardi winning the games with his brain. McCutchen shoulda been kept and Didi we know shoulda been re-signed. Didi will hit a couple dingers into the short porch. Toe is another guy that was nice to have around for his bat and glove. Joe always seems to get the best out of his players. He always finished over .500 here even when management gave him crumbs to work with. They said he was too intense when they fired him. We could use some of that intensity right about now.

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