It was an interesting week for you Phightin’ Phils. After taking 2 of 3 from the Cardinals in “Baseball Heaven”, the Phils went to Kansas City and won 2 of 3 again. They lost both series openers by a combine 11-1 score and won the final 2 games of each series by a combined 29-2 score.
Once the Phils finished off the Cards, they made the trek across the state of Missouri and went into Kauffman Stadium to take on the lowly Royals. Thanks to a lack of offense and Jake Arrieta’s inability to keep the ball in the ballpark, the Royals took the opener 5-1. Arrieta allowed 3 HR’s in 5 innings of work while the offense managed just 4 hits but K’d 12 times, including the last 6 outs of the game to drop the opener.
Things turned around on Saturday night as the offense reappeared while Zach Eflin controlled the Royals offense. Eflin pitched a complete game (his 2nd of the season- most in MLB) 4 hit shutout, striking out 7 in the process. Meanwhile, the offense got off the schnide with 9 hits and 7 runs, Odubel Herrera had a double and a triple. 8 of the 9 batters (Andrew Knapp being the exception) in the Phils lineup managed to record at least 1 hit as the Phils tied the series up with the 7-0 win.
In Sunday’s finale, the Phils turned to rookie Cole Irvin to replace Vince Velasquez who was placed on the injured list. Irvin allowed just 1 run on 5 hits in 7 innings of his MLB debut leading the Phils to a 6-1 win. He didn’t get a whole lot of help from his offense early on but the flood gates opened in the 5th inning where the Phils put a 6-spot on the board thanks to RBI’s by Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto (2) and Herrera (2). With Velasquez on the 10 day injured list, Irvin is likely to get at least one more start. Combined with VV’s struggles, Irvin’s 1st outing and Nick Pivetta’s resurgence at Lehigh, there’s a possibility we’ve seen VV’s last start for a while.
After a rough week for Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura (now with enough AB’s to qualify) is officially leading the team in hitting at .306. After striking out just 69 times last year, he has already K’d 17 times this year but it hasn’t hurt his average and could slow down as he gets familiar with the NL pitchers. Hoskins is not alone in his struggles. Maikel Franco, after his MVP-like start, has dropped his average to .234. Bryce Harper has struck out 51 times to go along with his .229 average. On the flip side, Cesar Hernandez (7-20, 3 BB’s this past week) has turned the corner and has his average up to .298 and leads the team in hits with 42. As evidenced by their “hit or miss” scoring this week, this team is likely going to be just what we’ve seen. Will things pick up when the temperatures rise? You have to hope so.
Everyone who had Zach Eflin tabbed as the ace of the staff, raise your hand. I didn’t think so. Eflin has 2 complete games and a 7 inning outing in his last 3 starts. His ERA (2.47) and wins (5) lead the team (qualifying pitchers only). He has only allowed 45 hits in his 8 starts. Aaron Nola is looking more like himself in his last few starts though he still has some work to do to lower his 4.57 ERA. Meanwhile, in 5 games this week, the bullpen allowed just 1 earned run. The rotation is settling in and the bullpen is closing things out. Now if they can just get a little more consistency from their offense.
Around the N.L. East
Braves– The Braves had a rough go of it on the west coast to start the week before getting themselves straightened out. They were dominated by the Dodgers as they were swept out of L.A. before heading to Arizona. The D-backs took the opener in 10 innings before the Braves turned things around to win the final 3 games of the series. The 3-4 week caused the Braves to drop back to 3 games behind your Phillies. This week they return home to Atlanta but it doesn’t get much easier as they will face the Cardinals and Brewers for 3 games each.
Mets– The Mets lost 2 of 3 in sunny San Diego before returning home to face the Marlins. After taking the first 2 games of the series, Sunday’s game was rained out as part of the East Coast Mother’s Day monsoon. This week they are back on the road taking with 6 division games. First up is 3 in D.C. before a trip to Miami for 3 more with the Fish. With their next 10 games against the 2 teams below them in the standings, their is potential for a swing in either direction at the bottom of the standings.
Nationals– The Nats faced 2 of the best teams in the N.L for 7 games and things did not go as they’d have hoped. The Brewers swept their 3 game series in Milwaukee. A trip to Los Angeles went a little bit better as they split a 4 game series with the Dodgers. The 2-5 week still dropped them to 7.5 back of the Phils though. With 3 games each against the Mets and Cubs at home, the Nats will look to stay afloat in the East.
Marlins– 6 games, 5 losses. They stink. The fish will play 2 against Tampa in Miami before the Mets come to town for 3. On the bright side, they can only lose, at most, 5 games this week.
While the Phils return home this week, it will not be an easy week. First up is 4 against the Brewers. Then, the Rockies come into CBP for 3 games. While their record may say they are a sub-.500 team, they took 3 of 4 from the Phils in Denver just a few weeks ago. Both teams can mash the ball and the pitching will get a test. The offense needs to get on track this week or the Phils may find themselves coming back to the pack in the East standings.