Phillies - Cubs Series Preview: Building Momentum


After a successful but kind of disappointing series win over the Padres, the Phillies head to Chicago for a four game series that would be nice to win as a momentum boost before the break. The four games are Monday - Thursday and all start at 8:05 PM.


Pitching Matchups

For the Phillies, they have Matt Moore slated to start in Game 1, and then the trio of Nola, Wheeler and Eflin. For Moore, his last start was 5 scoreless innings against the Mets. For Nola, it was a mixed bag against the fish. Zack Wheeler (who was recently named an All-Star) is coming off a 7 ⅔ innings gem, while Eflin is coming off a winning outing against the Padres. As for the Cubs pitchers? They’re not exactly the greatest. Zach Davies has an ERA of 4.32. Former Phillies Jake Arrieta has continued to regress, Alec Mills has allowed 47 hits in 42.2 innings, and Adbert Alzolay is slightly comparable to Zach Eflin, who he’ll be facing in Game 4.


Who's the Closer?

Hector Neris looked to be a at least a respectable closer earlier in the season, before losing his job and failing to get through one inning in his last outing, allowing 6 earned runs and recording two outs. In Hector’s past 8 appearances he has an ERA of 16.2 and a WHIP of 2.85. When Jose Alvarado also struggled, Ranger Suarez was used to close out Game 2 of the Phillies last series against the Padres, and there’s speculation that he’s the Phillies new closer. I personally believe that with Bailey Falter putting together some strong outings, he’ll now be used how Ranger was and Suarez will at least be given his chance, but who knows what Joe Girardi will do.


Lineups

The Phillies and Cubs rank 17th and 19th, respectively, in league-wide OPS. In terms of runs scored this year, Philadelphia is scoring 4.22 runs per game, while Chicago is producing a slightly lower figure at 4.13. However, the Phillies should have the advantage on the mound, and finally have their lineup healthy with the return of Didi Gregorius. Especially with hitters like Bryce Harper (3 HR in his last 5 games) and JT Realmuto (HR, Triple in his past two games) potentially heating up, the Phillies have the tools to start a run before the break.


Overview

But, for Philadelphia to win their second straight series, it might come down to the pitching. We can kind of expect a strong start from Zack Wheeler, but Matt Moore is a question mark, and while Aaron Nola has been striking out batters more recently, he still allowed 7 Earned Runs in less than 5 innings his last time out. Zach Eflin to a lesser extent has also underperformed, with an ERA over 4. With strong performances from those 4, Philly can feel strongly about their chances. If the Cubs are able to score runs often, then the Phils will rely on their lineup to win games, which hasn’t worked for them so far this year.


Another thing of note is that this 4 game series at Wrigley could have major implications on Dave Dombroski's actions during the trade deadline. If Philadelphia can string together some wins and show they're a piece or two away, Dombrowksi might just try and get that piece. If the Phillies show that their current core can't be a playoff competitor, their focus might shift to a re-tooling phase and sell off some of their assets.


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