What's going on with the Phillies?
They may be in last place in the National League East, but the Phillies keep fighting, as they are wont to do. Ryne Sandberg's club has now won three straight series over playoff contenders, including an impressive three-game sweep over Washington. That should give the Phillies all the momentum they need to break the spell that the Mets have held over them lately (New York has dropped just five games to Philly all season), but this club didn't get where it is by being the most consistent bunch.
Even with the recent spurt of success, the Phillies are still a game behind the Mets and nowhere near the National League playoff race. Unless a sweep of the Mets leads to a miracle run, Phillies fans only have September call-ups to look forward to as summer turns to fall. Could we get a first look at top prospect and possible first baseman of the future Maikel Franco next week? I only saw him for a little bit during my trip to a Buffalo Bisons game this season, but I can tell you that Franco's power is legit.
Who are these guys?
Okay, we know who Marlon Byrd is, but why is he still here? After an improbable comeback season in New York and Pittsburgh last year, Byrd has kept the good times going with a .785 OPS and 24 home runs in 2014. Only four players in the National League have more home runs! When Byrd was hitting as well in 2013, the Mets were able to deal him to the Pirates for a nice package, but the Phils seem content to hold onto the Byrd Man. Sure, he has an extra year on his contract this time around, but does Ruben Amaro Jr. really think his team is ready to compete in 2015?
After starting the season with the major league club, Freddy Galvis spent a long time in Lehigh Valley this season before finally being called back up when Reid Brignac was designated for assignment on August 23. The versatile Galvis is making the most of his new opportunity, hitting a home run during a Tuesday start against the Nationals. At age 24, he still has a chance to be part of the Phillies' future, but that future is most likely as a utility player, as Galvis has an OPS of just .606 in 442 career at-bats.
Who's on the mound?
Friday: David Buchanan vs. Jacob deGrom
Buchanan has been surprisingly steady for a rookie pitcher this season. He's helped fill a gap in the Philly rotation by allowing three runs or less in 10 consecutive starts. Low amounts of walks, strikeouts, and home runs allowed make Buchanan a boring pitcher, but also an effective one. The Mets have seen him twice this year and have managed to score seven runs in 12.2 innings against him. For a guy who doesn't use a lot of pitches, the Phillies could probably let Buchanan pitch deeper into games if they wanted to.
During his first start back from a short disabled list stint with shoulder tendinitis, deGrom allowed five runs in six innings to the Dodgers. On the bright side, the young right-hander also allowed just seven baserunners while racking up seven strikeouts. In other words, his ratios were pretty good, so look for deGrom to get comfortable against the Phillies tonight, especially if he can manage their lefties well.
Saturday: Jerome Williams vs. Bartolo Colon
Williams was essentially picked off up the scrap heap by the Phillies when they were desperate for a starter following the Roberto Hernandez trade. Although his ERA for the season is a dreadful 5.42, Williams has given the Phils anything but scrap heap value during his three starts with the team. His strikeout and walk numbers aren't pretty, but he has allowed just four runs in those three games, (all against playoff contenders) while pitching deeper and deeper into each contest. In other words, Williams looks like a rich man's Hernandez. Maybe the Mets can break up his magical run this weekend.
The Colon trade rumors are so hot that the big right-hander might not even make this scheduled start for the Mets. On the other hand, Sandy Alderson might not be too eager to make a deal considering how well Colon has pitched lately. He's looked great with five runs allowed in his last 21 innings. With a strikeout-to-walk ratio of just about 6:1 for the season, Colon is going to be hard to pass up for teams that need a starting pitcher down the stretch.
Sunday: A.J. Burnett vs. Dillon Gee
The 37-year-old Burnett hasn't pitched very well this season. He's another guy, like Hernandez, who the Phillies would do well to ship to a contender just to open up a roster spot for a younger player. As the Williams acquisition shows, though, the Phillies aren't exactly ready to give up on 2014 yet. That's too bad, because Burnett pitched brilliantly in his recent start against the Nationals. He struck out a season-high 12 batters while walking just one and allowing one run in seven innings. Like Colon, he's another guy the Dodgers and Angels should be trying to acquire right now.
Gee might not be on his team for much longer, either. The Mets' depth of young pitching combined with Gee's continued ineffectiveness in the second half make the 28-year-old right-hander expendable. He held up well against the Athletics in his latest outing, but Gee still only managed a single strikeout in 6.2 innings. I'd expect Gee to get moved this winter, especially if Colon is still on the team.
Prediction: The Mets sweep the Phillies because why not?
What about some highlights?
The last time the Mets played the Phillies, Anthony Recker blasted his team towards a series victory.
No matter whether his team wins or loses, the Phillie Phanatic always has a good time at the ballpark.
I imagine even a dark lord of the Sith would have a good time with the Phanatic at a baseball game... Oh wait, that actually happened.
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