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Phillies - Giants Series Preview: Can Philadelphia get back on top of the NL East?

The San Francisco Giants are looking down the beginnings of the rebuild, and are extremely unlikely to compete this year, having to fight the Dodgers and Padres for playoff spots. But this year, they’ve gotten off to a relatively strong start, especially at home where they’re 5-1. But this series is at Citizens Bank Park, and San Fran is only 4-5 on the road this year. The Phillies meanwhile are coming off of a series victory over the Cardinals where their only blemish was a Matt Moore game. They currently sit a game back of the New York Mets for the top spot in their division. Philadelphia rode a complete game shutout from ace Aaron Nola as well as a timely Bryce Harper bomb on the Phanatic’s Birthday to secure the win last time out, and will look to ride that momentum through the end of the homestand. Now, they face off in a three-game bout in which both teams will be trying to keep their position in the standings, as the Giants are currently ahead of the Padres.

Game 1: Chase Anderson vs. Kevin Gausman

Chase Anderson takes the mound for Philadelphia, which isn’t great. He has been better than Matt Moore, even though that isn’t a high bar. In his two games this year he hasn’t made it longer than 5 innings and is struggling to keep his pitch count low, averaging 77 pitches in 4.5 innings overall. But lucky for the Phillies, the Giants bats are ice cold right now, and they’re hovering around a 200-batting average on the season, and only get on base about 28% of the time. The Giants might be due for a big game soon, as by most metrics in 2020 their offense was good, and they didn’t lose a large chunk of their lineup. But if their cold streak continues Anderson should be able to take advantage. On the Giants side of pitching, Gausman has been a mixed bag this season. In his first two starts, he was able to reach the 6th inning or later only allowing 2 earned runs. But in his most recent outing against a good Cincinnati Lineup he lets 5 runs cross the plate in 6 innings of work. He also allowed two home runs in his last start, which is something to keep an eye on Bryce Harper seems to be finding a power streak as of late.

Game 2: Zack Wheeler vs. Logan Webb

Wheeler was the X-Factor in his first start, a win over the Braves, in which he went 7 scoreless and drove in a couple runs, because why not? But over his last couple of starts, he’s been trending downwards. He allowed 22 flyballs, 6 earned runs, one bomb, and struck out 10 in his last 11 innings on the mound. Wheelers track record isn’t the type to make me concerned after two mixed performances, but we’ll see if he can bounce back as well as Nola did against a struggling San Fran lineup. And for the Phillies counterparts in the batter's box, Logan Webb is a matchup they should be excited for. It’s just Webb’s third season in the majors, but he’s never recorded a single season ERA under 4 and made his last appearance out of the bullpen, pitching one scoreless. In his previous two starts, and across the course of his career, he allows a high amount of hits, walks, home runs and generally isn’t that great of a pitcher, and hasn't been. The Phillies as a team hit .244 over the Cardinals series, but left an average of 5.33 runners in scoring position per game. Translating getting on base to scoring more runs seems pretty important in baseball, and some improvement in that category could seriously boost the Phillies offensive numbers. Especially since Webb allows a high number of hits, translating men on base to men tagging home plate should be the Phillies main focus.

Game 3: Zach Eflin vs. Anthony DeSclafani

With the Giants, DeSclafani is having a career year by far. Last season his era was approaching seven and half, and through 17 innings this year it’s just over 1. He’s also only walked 4 runners and allowed 14 hits so far. He’s been really strong this year, and while he won’t keep his ERA around one through the season, he’s setting career best in most statistics. For the Phillies Side, Eflin looks to build off of another strong performance, allowing two runs and 6 hits in 7 innings. It’s also been a personal best season for Eflin, as he’s allowing less baserunners and hits than ever.

A Former Manager’s Homecoming

Gabe Kapler returns to Citizens Bank Park on Monday night. Kapler went 161-163 in two seasons (2018,2019) as the Phillies manager, and Kapler had a couple things to say looking back on his time in the northeast,

“I feel like I had a chance with two baseball teams that were a lot of fun to work with,” And when asked about how fans viewed him Kapler added, “I have pretty thick skin. I understand all the criticism. It always kind of raises the bar for me, gives me a chance to meet that bar. And I do feel very comfortable in San Francisco … I felt pretty comfortable in Philadelphia, too. Look, it just didn’t work out. It’s part of baseball”

And with a Giants win on Monday night, Kapler can become the first ever manager to be 200-200 through the first 400 games of his career. Time will tell if he’ll be booed, but he definitely left his mark with a unique stint with the Phillies.

Lineup Notes

  • For the Phillies, JT Realmuto has hit .391 with 4 RBI’s and 7 runs scored in 7 games against San Francisco

  • Jean Segura is hitting .481 with 13 total hits and 19 total bases in the Phillies past 8 games.

  • Didi Gregorius is hitting just .154 lifetime against the Giants

  • The Phillies and the Giants have each won 7 games each of the past 14 contests against each other

  • Bryce Harper has slashed .333/.407/1.199 over his past 7 games along with three home runs and 19 total bases

NL East Race

As mentioned at the beginning, the Phillies sit one game back of the Mets in the NL East, and they're a game ahead of the Marlins, who are in third place. New York starts a three game series against the Cubs on Tuesday, while the Marlins start a two game series with the Orioles that same day. The Braves and Nationals will square off with the Yankees and Cardinals to try and climb back into the early playoff picture.

Injury Updates

According to Matt Gelb of the Athletic, The Phillies are making the following roster moves:

  • Jose Alvarado, Matt Moore and Ronald Torreyes are headed to the IL

  • Damon Jones, Nick Maton and Chris Sanchez are up

Where to Watch the Series

Game 1: 7:05 PM Monday Night on NBC Sports Philadelphia, Listen on 94 WIP

Game 2: 7:05 PM Tuesday Night on NBC Sports Philadelphia, Listen on 94 WIP

Game 3: 1:05 PM Wednesday Afternoon on NBC Sports Philadelphia, Listen on 94 WIP

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