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.
|Alec Bohm||3B||COVID-19||COVID-19 IL||TBD|
|Odúbel Herrera||OF||Ankle Tendinitis||10-day IL||End of month|
|Matt Joyce||OF||Strained lower back||10-day IL||End of month|
|Roman Quinn||OF||Ruptured achilles||60-day IL||2022|
|Aaron Nola||RHP||Undisclosed||COVID-19 IL||TBD|
|Chase Anderson||RHP||Undisclosed||COVID-19 IL||TBD|
|Sam Coonrod||RHP||Forearm tendinitis||10-day IL||End of month|
|Seranthony Dominguez||RHP||Tommy John surgery||60-day IL||September|
|JoJo Romero||LHP||Tommy John surgery||60-day IL||2022|
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.
- 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.
- JT Realmuto, C (.274/.370/.452, 124 wRC+) — Good start to his five year contract with Philly.
- Bryce Harper, RF (.283/.380/.519, 141 wRC+) — Kinda hard to believe that this is just his age-28 season.
- Andrew McCutchen, LF (.229/.351/.441, 115 wRC+) — Has a 135 wRC+ since May after a dreadful first month (60 wRC+)
- Didi Gregorius, SS (.221/.274/.405, 80 wRC+) — Has 4 homers in 51 plate appearances since returning from the injured list on July 2nd.
- 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.
- Brad Miller, DH (.247/.333/.451, 111 wRC+) — Has a 119 wRC+ and 29 homers in 524 plate appearances since 2019.
- Ronald Torreyes, 3B (.262/.293/.376, 82 wRC+) — Manning the hot corner with Bohm sidelined.
- Travis Jankowski, CF (.375/.474/.500, 167 wRC+) — Just 60 plate appearances.
- 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
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)
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.
|Ranger Suárez (L)||24||19|
|José Alvarado (L)||16|
|Bailey Falter (L)||5|
|Enyel De Los Santos||15|
|Cristopher Sánchez (L)|