Welcome back to the Weekend Preview!
This time, the Red Sox are once again heading into an interleague matchup, but this time it’s at home, with none of those appalling National League rules, against a team that ranks among the bottom three in baseball. For the only time on the Weekend Preview, here are the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia Phillies – Current Record: 53-81 – Projected Record: 64-98
It’s tough to say anything good about the Phillies this season other than they did well in selling off their tradable assets. With former mainstays like Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley gone, the Phillies have acquired more young talent and have the space to let them play. They’ve even gone on something of an improbable run of their own too – from June 17th to August 8th, the Phillies only lost five of their 21 games played. Murderers’ Row or not, that is impressive. Maikel Franco looks like he’s well on his way to becoming the next big Phillie, or at least he did before he went down with a wrist fracture. Ken Giles is already closing out games for them, and he seems like the real deal. However, the 2015 version of the team is a lot less exciting than any future versions. The Phillies are, in no uncertain terms, pretty awful. They’re committed to rebuilding now, and while being terrible is expected, it’s still not a pretty sight.
Adam Morgan vs. Joe Kelly, Friday, 7:10 p.m. EDT
Adam Morgan is essentially a warm body. There’s nothing particularly impressive about him. Morgan doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, walks a fair few, gives up fly balls 50% of the time and allows lots of homers. That’s resulted in a 4.03 ERA and a 5.43 FIP. His fastball doesn’t even average 90 mph. There’s just not a lot to what Morgan does that inspires confidence in having him in any sort of role. To his credit, however, he’s had a solid August in terms of results. He’s gone six or more innings in all but one of his five starts, and walked just one in that span. He’s registered a quality start in every game he’s pitched except that one start as well. That one start? Morgan allowed four home runs and five earned runs in 3.2 innings. Gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.
I’m not too sure what replaced the old, crappy Joe Kelly, but I really like the new version. After a five-run shelling against the Rays on August 1st, he’s looked completely different. He’s induced weaker contact, gotten more grounders and used his great stuff to great effect. This was on display in his previous start, where he stymied the NL East-leading Mets to just five hits and one run over 7.1 innings. Maybe it’s just a change in results, but neither Kelly nor the fans are complaining. Take out that August 1st start, and he’s got a 1.69 ERA for the month. How nice is that?
Alec Asher vs. Wade Miley, August 22nd, 4:05 p.m. EDT
Asher came over in the Cole Hamels trade, and in his only major league start so far, he’s looked the same as he did in the minors: like batting practice. After a May promotion to the Triple-A level while Asher was still a part of the Rangers organization, he proceeded to allow 16 homers in 12 starts. He did relatively better as a Lehigh Valley Iron Pig by ceding only three homers in four starts. Combine his homer-prone ways with a low strikeout rate and you’ve got a BP hurler. There’s not a lot of upside here, but he’s a better pitcher than Adam Morgan. That last sentence says a lot about both of them, sadly.
Miley hasn’t had the most relaxing August of all Sox starters. Of his six starts in the last month, he’s allowed four or more runs three times, and he’s lucky I used August as the arbitrary endpoint here because he got torched for seven runs by the White Sox on July 28th. Even though he’s not striking out as many batters, Wade Miley is still on his way to the second-best season of his career according to both bWAR and fWAR. Baseball is weird.
Jerad Eickhoff vs. Eduardo Rodriguez, August 23rd, 1:35 p.m. EDT
Three starts in and Eickhoff has been pretty good so far. He’s not walking a lot of guys, striking out enough to not be contact-driven, and somehow keeping the ball in the park despite the 50% fly ball rate. That probably stands to change soon, but Eickhoff has been serviceable in his first stint in the majors. His strikeout and walk rates have been hovering around league average at every level of the minors, and probably deserves some run now that he’s 25 years old and realistically has nowhere else to go except the bullpen. Of the three Phillies pitchers shown here, Eickhoff has the best chance to stick in the rotation after 2015.
After his eight-run implosion against the Marlins, Rodriguez has looked much better that what we saw in late July/early August. A strong eight-inning, one-run effort against the Indians on August 18th was followed up by a good six-inning, two-run outing against the Royals on the 23rd. Even his ERA and FIP for the season are essentially the same: 4.25 and 4.26, respectively. It’s been a bumpy ride on the Eddie bus so far, but it’s been far from awful and more promising than anything. I mean, it’s pretty tough out there for a 22-year-old southpaw.
The Phillies are in the bottom five of nearly every major offensive category: runs, OBP, ISO, OPS, you name it. So prepare yourself for some pretty gory slash lines.
|.227/.286/.500 (in 49 PA)
There’s…there’s some offense here, I guess. A healthy Franco would give them a qualified hitter with a TAv over .300, but without him, this lineup looks a lot worse than it normally does. Some power exists here and there, and a few of these guys can turn on a bad pitch, but other than that, this isn’t all that scary of a lineup to opposing pitchers. Even Blanco’s amazing triple slash is buoyed by a .357 BABIP in 186 PA.
As bad as the Red Sox have been, the Phillies have been unquestionably worse. This is a series the Sox are actually favored to win! Can you believe that?
Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports Images