Category Archives: SPORTS

How long can Andy MacPhail survive as Phillies organization again ranked poorly?

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After four years, MacPhail’s organization stuck in neutral

The folks at Baseball America collectively produce one of the most respected all-around resources in the game. They are well known for their prospect, draft and minor league coverage. And they also provide some of the best coverage of the deeper issues involving all aspects of the game.

Baseball America is also really good at coming up with lists and rankings. They regularly provide updated rankings lists of the top prospects in each organization. They also do overall organizational rankings as well, which reflect the state of each club’s minor league talent situation.
The Philadelphia Phillies were ranked just 23rd among the 30 big-league organizations prior to the 2019 season. Now the Baseball America organizational ranking has been updated, as they note: “taking the 2019 MLB Draft, our updated Top 100 and new team Top 30s into consideration.”
Those newly considered factors did not help the Phillies. In fact, the organization has now dropped two places, down to just 25th among 30 clubs in Major League Baseball.
Only five organizations are rated lower right now, including the division rival New York Mets just behind in the 26th spot. The Washington Nationals are just ahead of both, sitting in the #24 slot.
The Atlanta Braves embarrassment of prospect riches continues to grow. The defending NL East champions and current division leaders are now ranked in the #3 position. Meanwhile, the rebuilding Miami Marlins have entered the top ten in the #10 spot.
With third baseman Alec Bohm at #37 and pitcher Spencer Howard coming in at #68, the Phillies have just two of the current Baseball America top 100 prospects. It’s not only BA thinking poorly of the Phillies top-level minor league talent. MLB Pipeline currently has just Bohm (36) and pitcher Adonis Medina (75) among their top 100 prospects. Bohm (54), Howard (56) and Medina (71) show up among the current Fangraphs top 100 prospects.
By contrast, the Braves have a half-dozen in the Baseball America top 100, including three youngsters rated higher than Bohm. Both MLB and Fangraphs have the Braves with five on their lists, with four of those ranking higher than any Phillies prospect.
While on a par with the Nationals and Mets and possessing more talent at the big-league level than the Marlins, the situation involving the Braves does not bode well for the Phillies. They watched as Atlanta stormed past them to capture a division crown a year ago, and now despite a major financial outlay in this past off-season, the Braves have once again roared past the Phillies in the standings.
Prospect and minor league rankings are not the be-all and end-all for an MLB organization. But having a deep and talented pool of youngsters not only allows you to bring waves of talent up to help your big club, it also provides you with enticing chips to deal who are attractive to other organizations at times such as the upcoming trade deadline.

This situation is most definitely an indictment of the Andy MacPhailMatt Klentak regime. MacPhail has been the President of Baseball Operations for nearly four full years now. This is his organization, from a baseball talent standpoint. Klentak was his first big hiring as the GM in the fall of 2015. Together, they have presided over the last four Phillies drafts and four July 2nd international signing periods. The Phillies have yet to finish a season with a winning record in their tenure.

 

I am quite sure that the Phillies baseball operations people would respectfully disagree with this ranking. But for principal owner John Middleton to continue ignoring the inability of MacPhail to put together a respected organization, talent-wise anyway, would be courting disaster.
The vast majority of MacPhail’s tenures with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, and now the Phillies stretching back nearly two and a half decades reveal very little in the way of winning. In fact, even in this current season, perhaps especially in the current season when so much was anticipated and expected of his club, MacPhail continues to do nothing more than tread water.
It’s hard for us to make the judgment now that we’re one trade away from the World Series. We don’t believe that. I don’t believe that. So, as a result, you’re going to have to be more judicious with your playing talent…given our current circumstances, I think I’m going to be a little judicious and careful about what talent’s walking out the door.”
That was MacPhail’s commentary per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia when asked recently about the Phillies approach to the upcoming MLB trade deadline, which is now less than a week away. Other than Bohm and perhaps Howard or Medina, what “talent” is he concerned about “walking out the door?
The Phillies absolutely should not even consider dealing away Bohm at his point. And Howard is becoming nearly as untouchable, elevating himself past Medina to become clearly the Phillies top pitching prospect. Anyone else should be fair game in trade talks – but would any team in possession of genuine talent that could help the Phillies reach the 2019 postseason be attracted by that talent, even in a package?
MacPhail received a three-year contract extension at the end of the 2017 season, taking him through 2021. Klentak was extended for three years back in March in a deal that runs through the 2022 season. The track record of both leaves me scratching my head as to the reasoning, at least in the timing, behind those extensions.
Not much high-level minor league talent. Very little winning at the big-league level in decades while running an organization. How long can that be allowed to continue without serious repercussion at the management level?

Could Matt Harvey or Derek Holland be next Phillies pitching reclamation projects?

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After being waived by the Angels, could Matt Harvey help Phillies?

It is not secret that the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to upgrade their starting pitching rotation. As the 2019 MLB trade deadline approaches, the club has been linked to almost every arm rumored to be on the market.

General manager Matt Klentak has not limited his attempts at improving the staff to just the trade market, however. Witness this past weekend’s move to sign left-hander Drew Smyly, who had been released by the Texas Rangers.
Smyly paid off, at least for one start, when the 30-year-old, six-year veteran surrendered just one run on four hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking two in a game that the Phillies ultimately won over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Two more veterans with a track record of big-league success, one a right-hander and another a left-hander, are now also available after being recently released by their most recent clubs. The righty is 30-year-old Matt Harvey and the lefty is 32-year-old Derek Holland.
Of course, there is a reason that these pitchers, still in the back-end of their prime years, were released. Neither was impressing in this 2019 season.
Harvey was released by the Los Angeles Angels with a 3-5 record and 7.09 ERA amassed across 12 starts in which he allowed 63 hits over 59.2 innings with a 39/29 K:BB. Holland was 2-4 with a 5.90 ERA, allowing 68 hits over 68.2 innings across 31 appearances, seven of those starts, with a 71/35 K:BB.
All the way back in 2013, Harvey became a National League All-Star and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting as a 24-year-old with the New York Mets. Sadly, he required Tommy John surgery following that season and missed the entirety of the 2014 campaign.

Harvey returned strong in 2015 to win 13 games with a 2.71 ERA over 29 starts. However, he then was forced to undergo thoracic outlet surgery in the middle of the 2016 season, pretty much ending his effective time with New York.
Dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in May 2018, Harvey would go 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA overall in Cincinnati across 24 starts. This past December, Harvey signed a one-year $11 million deal as a free agent with the Angels.

Holland made his mark over eight seasons with the Texas Rangers. (Keith Allison)
Holland was recently released by the San Francisco Giants. After pitching his first eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, with whom he won 16 games as a 24-year-old back in 2011, Holland signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox in December 2016, then again as a free agent with the Giants in February 2018.
140 of Harvey’s 145 career appearances have come as a starter. Holland has made 221 career starts across his 275 appearances. Most of his relief outings have come over the last four years.
The question to be asked is, would either or both of these veteran pitchers be a rotation upgrade for the Phillies? Or, would they be inexpensive enough to take a flyer on, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle?
The answer to the first question is likely a no. Their recent performances have been pretty much on a par with what the Phillies were already getting from Nick Pivetta, who was bumped from the rotation with the Smyly signing.
Now, would they be inexpensive? Relatively speaking, yes. Holland would only be owed a fraction of his $7 million and Harvey a percentage of that $11 million contract. Both are only guaranteed through this season. Neither would require surrendering prospects.
For what would basically be about $8 million, the Phillies could add the two veterans to their bullpen mix, while also having some injury insurance for the rotation, as well as a potential spot-starter if one were needed at any point.
Now, would either or both accept a bullpen role? And would the Phillies entertain such moves? Those are unknowns. Neither has been publicly linked to the club at this point. But Klentak, with both the Smyly signing and the recent trade for reliever Mike Morin, has shown a willingness to try inexpensive quick fixes. These two veterans just might fit the bill as well.

Tigers need to be used as a doormat by the Phillies in quick two-game series

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Phillies hope there won’t be too much partying this week in Motown

The Philadelphia Phillies (52-48) have won five of their seven Interleague contests thus far in the 2019 MLB regular season.

The club will try to add to that winning record over the next two nights at Comerica Park as they take on the host Detroit Tigers (30-65) in Motown for a quick two-game set.
Back on April 30 and May 1, the Phillies and Tigers split another two-gamer. That one was held at Citizens Bank Park in what may have been a perfect microcosm of this 2019 Phillies season to date.
Four Detroit hurlers held the Phillies to just four hits as the Tigers won that opener by a 3-1 score. The very next night, the Phillies offense exploded for 15 hits in a 7-3 victory. It has been that kind of roller coaster year for a team that is now involved with a half-dozen other clubs in a chase for an NL Wildcard playoff berth.
The Tigers are not chasing anything, other than the top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Their record is the second-worst in all of Major League Baseball, just a few percentage points better than the Baltimore Orioles 31-68 mark.
The Tigers offensive attack and pitching staff both rank as next-to-last in baseball in key categories. Their hitters have produced just 3.65 runs per game. The pitchers have a combined .273 batting average against.
Frankly, this is a series that the Phillies need to sweep. The Tigers are down and out, already playing out the string with more than two months left on the schedule. However, as our look below at the starting pitchers who they will be throwing at the Phillies in this series shows, it won’t necessarily be an easy task.


DETROIT TIGERS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Nicholas Castellanos (27/RF): .284/.342/.480, 11 HR, 48 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs, 56 runs
JaCoby Jones (27/CF): .252/.317/.458, 20 HR, 27 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs, 31 runs, 6 steals
Brandon Dixon (27/1B): .255/.289/.476, 12 HR, 23 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 26 runs
Harold Castro (25/2B): .302/.315/.424, 2 HR, 10 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs, 13 runs (42 games, 147 plate appearances)
Niko Goodrum (27/UT): .245/.318/.407, 9 HR, 31 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs, 49 runs
Jeimer Candelario (25/3B): .218/.306/.371, 7 HR, 20 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 26 runs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Miguel Cabrera: The great Miggy has become somewhat a shell of his former MVP self as he ages with a losing ball club. Cabrera is slashing .283/.346/.373 with 18 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs. Basically, Cabrera can still hit, but he seems to have lost his power almost completely.
Cabrera has enjoyed a storied 17-year big-league career since debuting as a 20-year-old third baseman with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins back in June 2003. The young Miggy helped lead the Fish to their second World Series crown that year as a rookie, finishing fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Cabrera would go on to five consecutive NL All-Star Game appearances with the Marlins, winning a pair of Silver Slugger Awards at the hot corner and finishing 5th in NL MVP voting twice.
Then in December 2007, Cabrera was traded away to the Detroit Tigers along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis in exchange for a six-prospect package that included outfielder Cameron Maybin and pitcher Andrew Miller.
With Detroit, Cabrera would elevate his game to another level. He was an AL All-Star for seven consecutive seasons, and won five more Silver Sluggers. Cabrera was the American League Most Valuable Player in back-to-back seasons, edging out Mike Trout in both 2012 and 2013. In that 2012 campaign, Cabrera became the first AL triple crown winner in 45 years when he led the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average.
Now age 36, Cabrera still has four years and $124 million guaranteed on a contract that runs through the 2023 season.  It’s a deal that likely makes him untradeable. That is especially so now that he has been diagnosed with chronic knee issues that will limit him almost exclusively to the Designated Hitter position.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

TUESDAY – Matthew Boyd (28/LH): 6-8, 4.13 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.133 WHIP, 112 hits over 120 IP across 20 starts with a 160/24 K:BB. Boyd has become the subject of intense rumors as the trade deadline approaches. With three seasons of team control remaining, the southpaw would not come cheap. The Tigers would be looking for multiple young pieces to help in their rebuild. The Phillies have been seriously linked, and this appearance makes for an interesting showcase.
WEDNESDAY – Jordan Zimmermann (33/RH): 0-7, 7.51 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 1.686 WHIP, 76 hits over 56.1 IP across 12 starts with a 40/19 K:BB ratio. Zimmermann, who missed the bulk of the 2009-10 seasons while with the Washington Nationals after undergoing Tommy John surgery, had elbow pain earlier this year. That condition drove him to the IL, causing him to miss the entire month of May and much of June. Since returning he has not been good. Over his last three starts, the veteran has allowed 28 hits over just 11 innings with a 9/4 K:BB. His season results say that he won’t last long, won’t register many strikeouts, and is likely to be hit hard. He has faced the Phillies 16 times in his career, most of those with the Nationals, with a career 4.17 ERA and 1.316 WHIP in those outings. The Phillies have to hope that he doesn’t somehow turn back the clock to his 2013-14 NL All-Star past in this one.

THE SKIPPER

Ron Gardenhire: The 61-year-old is a native of Germany, born to a U.S. military family stationed at Butzbach in what was then West Germany back in October 1957. He became a 6th round choice of the New York Mets in the 1978 MLB Draft out of the University of Texas, and played for the Mets over parts of five seasons from 1981-85, spending 1982 as their starting shortstop.
After his retirement, ‘Gardy’ was hired as a manager in the minor league system of the Minnesota Twins, serving there from 1988-90. He then served for 11 years as the Twins third base coach, after which Gardenhire was given his first shot as a big-league skipper by Minnesota in 2002.
Over 13 seasons he guided Minnesota to a 1,068-1,039 record and six division championships. It was nearly seven, as his 2008 club lost a one-game playoff to the Chicago White Sox after the two clubs finished the regular season in a tie for first. His first 2002 team lost the ALCS to the Angels in five games.
In April of 2014, Gardenhire became the 60th skipper in big-league history to win 1,000 games, just the 10th to do it with one team. However, over his final four seasons the team deteriorated to big losing campaigns, finishing in last place three times and ending his tenure.
Gardenhire spent the 2017 season as bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and during the season also underwent prostate cancer surgery. After the season was over he was hired to guide the Tigers rebuilding program in October 2017.
Gardnehire’s son, Toby, was drafted by the Twins in 2005 and rose through their system to the Triple-A level. After his retirement as a player, Toby Gardenhire was given an opportunity at managing. He is now skipper of the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Minnesota farm system.

THE BALLPARK

Comerica Park: Opened in April 2000 to replace historic Tiger Stadium, the team’s previous home from its own 1912 opening, Comerica Park has a seating capacity of just over 41,000 fans. Tigers are everywhere you look. Not just talking about the players here. There are no fewer than nine statues of the animal spread around the ballpark, including a giant 15-foot tall cat at the main entrance and a pair of Tigers on the left field scoreboard whose eyes light up when a Detroit player cranks a home run.
In the left-center concourse, more statues are found in the Tigers Hall of Fame, including of legendary great players such as Ty CobbAl Kaline and Hank Greenberg.
Field dimensions are 345 and 330 feet down the left and right field lines respectively. It is a deep 420 feet out to dead-center field, 370 to left-center, and 365 to right-center field.
Nick Castellanos, a pending free agent who is a hot trade target as the deadline approaches, recently called the ballpark a “joke“:
This park is a joke,” Castellanos said, per the Detroit News. “It’s to the point where how are we going to be compared to the rest of the people in the league in terms of power numbers, OPS, slugging and all that stuff when we got a yard out here that’s 420 feet straight across center field? I mean, they can move in center and right-center field. There’s no reason I hit a ball 434 feet off (Nationals right-hander) Anibal Sanchez and it goes in the first row.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

TUESDAY: There is a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms at the 7:10 PM EDT first pitch, but this will not be a rainout, nor should there be any significant delays, if any at all. Winds will be almost non-existent, and temps will drop from the low-70’s into the upper-60’s during the game.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny for the 1:10 PM EDT scheduled first pitch and throughout the game. Winds will remain light, and temps will range from the mid-upper 70’s.
Detroit, Michigan forecast from The Weather Channel

MLB 2019 Power Rankings: Minnesota Twins take over the top spot

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The Minnesota Twins outfielders celebrate another victory

The Philadelphia Phillies have sat pretty much right in the middle of the MLB Power Rankings since I began producing them for 2019.

From June 1 (15th), through June 15 (14th) and on to July 1, when they ranked in the #18 slot the last time around, the rankings have not revealed much movement at all.
The Phillies currently sit in the #16 spot, buoyed by their defensive play, which ranks fourth in all of baseball. With a middling (15th) offense, what is truly weighing the club down and keeping them from seriously competing is their 25th ranked pitching staff.
As always, my own personal feelings have nothing to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, the rank is all about actual results and statistical performances.
There is never any subjectivity on my part. I always take key statistics and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to actually win ball games as well as their performance on offense, on the pitching mound, and in the field.
The MLB Power Rankings are going to be updated at Phillies Nation on roughly the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon. That formula carries two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. The first is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control damage.
As of my first ranking in this 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced simple “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This acknowledged the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. It wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.
There has now been a new update to the methodology. The new defensive metric will be the “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing simple “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive competence.
I then assign each of those component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there was a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage, then by runs-per-game, followed by pitching OPS.

2019 JULY 15 –  MLB RANKINGS

The new team at the top of the rankings are the Minnesota Twins, who were my Spotlight Team accompanying the June 1 rankings piece. The Twins are MLB’s surprise team this season. Many predicted they would be a playoff contender. I had them finishing second in the AL Central Division in my own 2019 MLB preview and predictions back in late March.
The hot risers are the Cleveland Indians, who have moved into a tie for an AL Wildcard playoff slot, and the Los Angeles Angels, who have rallied together in the wake of the tragic sudden death of starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs to win seven of their last 10 games to move back over the .500 mark.
On the down side, the Colorado Rockies have lost nine of 11, fallen below the .500 mark, and plummeted eight spots in the rankings from the start of July. The Milwaukee Brewers have lost eight of 10 to drop out of first place in the NL Central. The Brew Crew also have slipped in every one of my Power Rankings, a troubling sign for a team still sitting in contention for both that division crown and an NL Wildcard berth.
In parentheses are the team’s positions from the June 1, June 15 and July 1 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Minnesota Twins (2-2-3)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3-2)
  3. Oakland Athletics (8-12-5)
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4-4)
  5. Houston Astros (3-1-1)
  6. New York Yankees (5-8-9)
  7. Chicago Cubs (10-13-11)
  8. Boston Red Sox (6-6-10)
  9. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5-6)
  10. Cleveland Indians (18-18-15)
  11. Los Angeles Angels (19-17-19)
  12. Atlanta Braves (12-9-7)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19-13)
  14. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15-14)
  15. Texas Rangers (16-11-8)
  16. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14-18)
  17. San Diego Padres (17-20-20)
  18. Cincinnati Reds (13-16-17)
  19. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10-16)
  20. Colorado Rockies (11-7-12)
  21. San Francisco Giants (29-27-25)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21-22)
  23. Miami Marlins (23-26-21)
  24. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25-23)
  25. New York Mets (22-23-24)
  26. Seattle Mariners (26-22-27)
  27. Chicago White Sox (25-24-28)
  28. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28-26)
  29. Detroit Tigers (27-29-29)
  30. Baltimore Orioles (30-30-30)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Previous spotlight teams: Minnesota (6/1), Atlanta (6/15), Texas (7/1)
The Oakland Athletics are currently tied for the second American League Wildcard playoff berth with a 53-41 record, and are five games behind the first-place Houston Astros in the AL West Division race.
After three straight last place finishes, the A’s rose to become a 97-win team a year ago. They were bounced out of the AL Wildcard Game by the New York Yankees in a 7-2 defeat in the Bronx.

Bob Melvin has been at the helm in Oakland since the 2011 season.(Keith Allison)
Managed by Bob Melvin, now in his ninth season at the helm (687-640), the A’s are a team without a true weakness. They show up at 4th in my pitching category, 6th on defense, and as the 10th-ranked offensive attack. It all adds up to the 8th-best record in Major League Baseball and their current playoff contending status.
The A’s offensive attack is led by one of the top young stars in the game today, Matt Chapman. The 26-year-old third baseman made his first AL All-Star team this year after finishing 7th in AL MVP voting a year ago during a season in which he won a Gold Glove at the hot corner.
Other key players are 24-year-old center fielder Ramon Laureano, 25-year-old first baseman Matt Olson, 28-year-old shortstop Marcus Semien, and veteran DH Khris Davis.
On the mound, 34-year-old veteran right-hander Mike Fiers tossed his second career no-hitter earlier this season and is having a strong overall year. Righty Chris Bassitt and lefty Brett Anderson have also been solid in a rotation that could get better in September with the return of talented 26-year-old right-hander Frankie Montas. He was lost to an 80-game PED suspension.
Liam Hendricks has taken over the closer role from Blake Treinen and proven lights out with a 1.21 ERA, 2.06 FIP, 1.000 WHIP and 35 hits allowed over 52 innings across 44 games. He has registered a half-dozen saves in the game-end role with a 65/17 K:BB ratio. A trio of veterans in right-handers Joakim Soria and Yusmeiro Petit and southpaw Ryan Buchter have been strong in setup roles.
The A’s are typically little known by many baseball fans. But team president Billy Beane of “Moneyball” fame has helped the organization put together another legitimate playoff contender on the cheap. They will be a difficult out for any opponent in a one-game Wildcard match-up, should they get there again.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as 2019 MLB Power Ranking: July 15

Dodgers NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger leads baseball’s top team into Philly

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Leading NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger leads LA into Philly

The Philadelphia Phillies (48-45) welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers (62-33) to South Philly for a four game series this week at Citizens Bank Park.

For the visiting Dodgers, this will be a chance to continue to re-establish their dominance. After suffering through their first four-game losing streak since mid-April, the Dodgers exploded for 18 runs to capture their last two against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Dodgers come to Philly with the third-highest runs per game average (5.25) in the National League. Also, their pitching staff has the lowest ERA and batting average against in the league.
Those numbers highlight the reasons that the Dodgers have romped to a 14.5 game lead in the NL West Division as they try to win a seventh consecutive division crown. In addition, the Dodgers have the best overall record in the National League, sitting four games clear of the Atlanta Braves in the loss column.
These two teams met at Dodger Stadium at the end of May while both were in first place. The Dodgers swept out the Phillies, outscoring them 18-6 to begin the Phillies slide in the standings. With this series at home, the Phillies will try to reverse both that previous outcome and their own season fortunes.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Cody Bellinger: RF (23) – .334/.431/.687, 31 HR, 52 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs, 72 runs, 8 steals. Leading NL MVP contender.
Max Muncy: 1B (28) – .264/.365/.528, 23 HR, 37 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs, 58 runs
Joc Pederson: LF (27) – .238/.333/.517, 20 HR, 30 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, 49 runs
Alex Verdugo: CF (23) – .307/.355/.498, 10 HR, 32 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 35 runs
Corey Seager: SS (25) – .266/.345/.448, 8 HR, 29 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 40 runs
David Freese (36)/Justin Turner (34): 3B – 19 HR, 48 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs, 80 runs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

A.J. Pollock: The 31-year-old Pollock signed with the Dodgers as a free agent back in January. Los Angeles lured the center fielder away from the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks, with whom Pollock had played since being selected at 17th overall in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, with a four-year, $55 million deal that also includes a $10 million player option for the 2023 season.
Pollock was a 2015 NL All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner who was seen as one of the most consistent players in the game. The Dodgers saw him as just that – a consistent presence to man the middle of their outfield for the next few seasons as they tried to push through from NL champions to world champions.
Things did not begin well. After he had slashed just .223/.287/.330 with six extra-base hits over his first 28 games (26 starts), it was announced that Pollock was injured, suffering from an elbow infection. Pollock had a metal plate in his elbow, inserted in a previous surgery. That plate would need to be removed, and Pollock would end up on the IL right through the MLB All-Star Game last week.
Activated for this past weekend, Pollock returned to deliver a half-dozen hits against the Boston Red Sox, capped by a three-hit night in Sunday’s nationally televised extra-inning victory. The Dodgers defense has been the one suspect area for the team in this big season for the club. With the return of Pollock, the outfield defense should begin to stabilize.
Just what the Phillies need to face this week, the best team in the National League actually putting more talent on the field and improving their overall play.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY – Clayton Kershaw: 7-2, 3.09 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.051 WHIP, 88 hits over 99 IP across 15 starts with a 91/16 K:BB
TUESDAY – Walker Buehler: 8-1, 3.46 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 0.990 WHIP, 89 hits over 104 IP across 17 starts with a 113/14 K:BB
WEDNESDAY – Kenta Maeda: 7-6, 3.82 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 1.056 WHIP, 75 hits over 101.1 IP in 18 starts with a 101/32 K:BB
THURSDAY – Ross Stripling: 4-3 , 3.65 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.230 WHIP, 63 hits over 66.2 IP across 24 games (10 starts) with a 69/19 K:BB

THE SKIPPER

Dave Roberts is now in his fourth season at the helm of the Dodgers. He guided the team to an NL West crown in each of this first three seasons, and is well on his way to a fourth straight. The Dodgers have also won back-to-back National League pennants under Roberts guidance.
The only thing missing from Roberts managerial resume is a World Series championship. The Dodgers have not won one since Kirk Gibson‘s miracle home run and Orel Hershiser‘s dominating pitching led the 1988 team to a world title. They lost in seven games to the Houston Astros in 2017 (Gabe Kapler was the Dodgers farm director then) and to Boston Red Sox in five games last year.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

The first three nights of this series are going to be very similar. Temps in the low-90’s during the day, playing temps in the mid-upper 80’s. Moderate humidity, light winds, almost no chance of precipitation. Typically beautiful summer nights. For the series finale on Thursday afternoon there will be at least a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms as the leftover residue from Hurricane Barry flows into the area. Otherwise the conditions will be similar to the prior three days.