After an unusual Friday off, the Yankees return to action for a brief two-game set against the Phillies down the I-95 corridor. We get to see some old friends in manager Joe Girardi and shortstop Didi Gregorius over the next two days, which always brings back some fond memories. Let’s catch up with the team from the City of Brotherly Love.
Their story so far
The second-place Phillies are 30-31, four games behind the first place Mets (31-24) and five games out of a Wild Card spot. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for Girardi’s club in the first two months and change of the season. The Phils have hovered between four games over .500 (April 7th) and four games under .500 (June 4th) all season. And yet, they also spent 24 days in first place, though not since May 8th. The NL East is a strange, strange place.
Philly’s offense has not been good. They’ve scored 4.2 runs per game (league average is 4.4) and have a 92 wRC+ (20th out of 30). Bryce Harper (135 wRC+) has played in just 43 of the team’s 61 games, which is part of the issue. Also not helping: Didi Gregorius (69 wRC+) and Alec Bohm (58 wRC+) have had very disappointing seasons. This lineup has plenty talent, with others like J.T. Realmuto (146 wRC+), Jean Segura (129 wRC+), and Rhys Hoskins (113 wRC+) contributing, but they’ve had a hard time putting it all together.
Meanwhile, the team’s pitching and defense has been OK at 4.41 runs allowed per game. There’s a big difference between the starting rotation and bullpen, however. Philadelphia’s starters own a 3.97 ERA and 3.80 FIP, whereas the team’s seemingly always awful bullpen has a 4.47 ERA (10th-worst) and 4.58 FIP (5th-worst). To make matters worse, the Phillies’ bullpen has a -2.15 Win Probability Added, fifth-worst in MLB. Explains why Zack Wheeler is only 4-3 despite a 2.29 ERA in 13 starts. He’s been one of the majors best starters in fact, though the Yankees will miss him this weekend.
In spite of the franchise’s up-and-down campaign, the Phillies have played a little better of late. They’re 5-2 in June, including back-to-back walk-off wins against Atlanta coming into this series with the Yankees. Of course, the most recent game featured closer Hector Neris blowing a victory for Wheeler and then José Alvarado giving up two runs in the top of the tenth, only for the offense to plate three in the bottom half and win. It just can’t be easy for these Phils, it seems.
|Player||Position||Injury||Roster Status||Estimated Return|
|Chase Anderson||RHP||Undisclosed||COVID-19 IL||Next week|
|Matt Moore||LHP||Lower back spasms||10-day IL||This weekend|
|Didi Gregorius||SS||Elbow Impingement||10-day IL||This weekend|
|Brandon Kintzler||RHP||Strained neck||10-day IL||Next week|
|Roman Quinn||OF||Ruptured achilles tendon||60-day IL||2022|
|JoJo Romero||LHP||Tommy John surgery||60-day IL||2022|
|Seranthony Dominguez||RHP||Tommy John surgery||60-day IL||September|
Spotlight: Didi Gregorius
It’s been a month since the ex-Yankee has played due to an elbow impingement. Didi got off to a hot start, but cooled off substantially before hitting the injured list. Gregorius began the season with an 11-game hitting streak before he failed to record a knock in a pinch-hitting appearance on April 14th. Tough way to lose the streak, especially because he recorded hits in each of his next two games. In any case, Gregorius owned a .320/.345/.460 (114 wRC+) with a couple homers in his first 55 plate appearances of the season. But from then until May 12th, Gregorius batted .162/.205/.294 (36 wRC+) before he was put on the shelf.
Part of the reason he struggled was undoubtedly due to some elbow swelling he suffered early last month. The same elbow he had Tommy John surgery on while with the Yankees, as you surely recall. However, this was totally unrelated to his UCL fortunately. He had a difficult time swinging the bat without experiencing pain, so the Phillies had little choice but to sideline their starting shortstop.
Before the injury diagnosis, some may have wondered if Didi was finally regressing. After all, he’s never been a Statcast darling, consistently outperforming his expected stats (i.e. xwOBA) since he broke out with the Yankees. From 2016 through 2020, Gregorius had a .330 wOBA and 106 wRC+ in spite of xwOBAs ranging from .268 to .315 annually. Considering that this spans more than 2,000 plate appearances, I think it’s safe to overlook his poor exit velocities, no? All players decline at some point, but I’m not ready to write off Didi yet. His 2021 swoon looks far more like a result of his elbow rather than his skillset.
So, will we see him this series? Sure looks like it. Gregorius began a rehab assignment with Lehigh Valley a coupe days ago and went 3-for-3 with a homer on Thursday. I expect to see him in tonight’s lineup, though there’s no official word yet.
Here’s Roster Resource’s projected lineup:
- Odúbel Herrera, CF (.275/.344/.442, 117 wRC+) — Phillies are giving him a second chance after he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend in Atlantic City in 2019. Since charges were dropped, he says he has been going to counseling with his girlfriend, for what that’s worth.
- Jean Segura, 2B (.323/.377/.455, 129 wRC+) — This has been his best offensive season since 2016 (126 wRC+).
- Bryce Harper, RF (.261/.386/.471, 135 wRC+) — Missed some time with a wrist contusion.
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B (.248/.315/.465, 113 wRC+) — Only walking at a 7.9 percent rate after entering season with career 15.3 percent mark.
- J.T. Realmuto, C (.291/.404/.489, 146 wRC+) — Great way to start his $115.5 million contract.
- Andrew McCutchen, LF (.216/.328/.412, 105 wRC+) — Turned things around after starting season with a .169/.301/.247 (63 wRC+) in April.
- Alec Bohm, 3B (.220/.263/.308, 58 wRC+) — Sophomore slump after batting .338/.400/.481 (139 wRC+) last year.
- Ronald Torreyes, SS (.293/.317/.414, 101 wRC+) — Toe has done a nice job keeping the spot warm for Didi Gregorius, who could return this weekend. I presume Didi will be in this spot and the lineup will be re-shuffled.
- Andrew Knapp, C (.167/.228/.214, 26 wRC+) — Realmuto’s backup has been pretty bad.
- Rafael Marchan, C (.231/.286/.308, 67 wRC+) — Called up when Anderson went on COVID-19 IL, will probably go back down this weekend.
- Brad Miller, UTIL (.277/.344/.471, 122 wRC+) — He’s carved out a pretty good career as a role player/left-handed bat.
- Luke Williams, UTIL (.444/.444/.889, 261 wRC+) — Just 9 plate appearances, hit a walk-off homer on Wednesday.
- Matt Joyce, OF (.106/.271/.255, 47 wRC+) — Awful. Could be headed for DFA.
- Travis Jankowski, OF (.500/.500/.500, 182 wRC+) — Just 6 plate appearances.
Today, 4:05pm eastern:
RHP Jameson Taillon
We’re still waiting for Taillon to put things together. This will be his 12th start, with the righty entering it owning a 5.09 ERA and 4.43 FIP. He’s been great the first time against opposing lineups (2.88 ERA), bad a second time (5.70 ERA), and even worse with a third look (14.54). Sounds ripe for a relief role, but the Yankees will remain patient with a project in Taillon. (Stats vs. Phillies)
RHP Vince Velasquez
The Phillies can’t seem to settle on what they want to do with Velazquez. He’s been juggled between the rotation and bullpen over the past few years, though he’s mostly started for Philadelphia. He had a nice run in the rotation from April 23 to May 25 (2.20 ERA in 32.2 innings, with 1.1 of those frames in relief). However, he’s allowed 9 runs in his last two outings. (Stats vs. Yankees)
Tomorrow, 1:05pm eastern:
RHP Domingo Germán
As long as Germán limits his homers to solo shots (9 of his 12 homers have been allowed with the bases empty), he should be effective tomorrow. That’s always his story, of course. He’s also been much better on the road this season (2.10 ERA vs. 4.11 in the Bronx). (Stats vs. Phillies)
RHP Aaron Nola
Nola started the season on a tear, but has been in a little bit of a rut in his last six starts. He had a 2.89 ERA and 2.48 FIP through his first start in May, but has a 5.68 ERA and 4.79 FIP ever since. Homers have been a problem: 7 a allowed in his last 31.2 innings. (Stats vs. Yankees)
|José Alvarado (L)||29|
|Ranger Suárez (L)||37|