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Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview: Bryce Harper and friends come for some BBQ

Let’s see how brotherly lovely the Phillies really are.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals
May 7, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) hits a grand slam off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson (not pictured) during the second inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals return home for an interleague tilt with the Philadelphia Phillies who, after a few offseason splashes, are leading a very competitive National League East. While their big ticket acquisitions haven’t wowed with the bats as much as most probably expected, they’ve been good enough to get them in the position they’re in. The biggest thing about their lineup that you’ll notice below is that so many of them can work a walk, so it’s a difficult lineup to navigate for a pitcher. Their ace, Aaron Nola, has been off to a rough start, so for them to be where they are even with that is actually very impressive. If and when he comes around, it’ll be trouble for the rest of the NL East. They could probably use another bullpen arm (oh hey, Craig Kimbrel) and maybe another starter (what’s up, Dallas Keuchel?), but they’re in good shape.

Meet the Phillies

Phillies vs. Royals Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Phillies
Category Royals Phillies
Winning % .341 .583
Team wRC+ 98 102
Team xFIP 4.68 4.35
Highest fWAR Hunter Dozier, 2.0 Rhys Hoskins, 1.5

Phillies Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Andrew McCutchen LF 159 .252 .371 .417 17.0% 23.3% 117 0.9
Jean Segura SS 115 .306 .348 .463 4.3% 13.0% 117 0.7
Bryce Harper RF 159 .231 .371 .469 17.0% 29.6% 122 1.1
Rhys Hoskins 1B 157 .295 .420 .636 15.9% 26.8% 178 1.5
J.T. Realmuto C 137 .273 .336 .421 7.3% 19.7% 101 1.3
Odubel Herrera CF 86 .250 .291 .375 5.8% 19.8% 77 -0.1
Cesar Hernandez 2B 146 .305 .363 .458 8.2% 13.0% 119 0.7
Maikel Franco 3B 145 .240 .317 .450 10.3% 10.3% 88 0.0
Nick Williams DH 51 .191 .255 .298 3.9% 27.5% 50 -0.1

Phillies Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Andrew Knapp C 36 .172 .333 .241 19.4% 33.3% 70 0.0
Phil Gosselin INF/OF 30 .300 .300 .400 0.0% 16.7% 85 -0.1
Sean Rodriguez INF/OF 24 .316 .435 .632 12.5% 16.7% 182 0.4

Phillies Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Hector Neris 15 14.2 0 1 37.9% 5.2% 2.45 2.35 0.4
Seranthony Dominguez 16 14.1 3 0 29.7% 6.3% 5.02 3.09 0.2
Pat Neshek 15 13.2 0 1 11.9% 1.7% 3.95 5.05 0.1

Projected Pitching Matchups

Friday May 10th - 7:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jake Arrieta 7 45.0 4 2 20.1% 8.7% 3.40 4.38 0.6
Homer Bailey 7 36.0 3 3 22.5% 8.6% 5.25 4.08 1.1

Jake Arrieta isn’t what he was a few years ago when he won the Cy Young Award with a season for the ages, but he’s still good. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up, but as silly as this sounds, he really battles and that gives him a bit of an edge even with his stuff down. He did start fast this season and hasnt been as good over his last three starts, including getting roughed up by the Marlins, which isnt exactly a feather in his hat. His sinker is a surprisingly effective pitch with a .244 average allowed and just a .337 slugging percentage, and I say it’s surprising because he just doesn’t get much in the way of weak contact or no contact with a 90.5 MPH average exit velocity on it. If you want to find the pitch to key on, it’s the slider. He’s allowed a .310 average and .521 slugging percentage on that with just six strikeouts. I could see a mistake to Ryan O’Hearn getting badly punished in this one.

After a couple rough outings, Homer Bailey really bounced back his last time out with six innings of two run baseball against the Tigers with 13 swinging strikes in 94 pitches. And in reality, he’s actually been much better since early in the game against the Angels on April 28th where he bounced back big time as the game went on. This will be a big test for him as he banks on getting that splitter to make some ugly swings while the Phillies don’t swing at too many bad pitches. That said, they do strike out a fair amount, so it’s not like it’s impossible for him to have a good game. He’s going to need to be better than he has been, though, against this lineup because they will make him pay.

Saturday May 11th - 6:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Zach Eflin 7 42.0 4 3 18.2% 4.1% 3.00 4.68 0.5
Brad Keller 8 47.1 2 3 17.5% 13.6% 3.99 5.02 0.5

Zach Eflin has had a bit of a long road to being a quality big league starter, but in his first really extended big league action last year, he was pretty solid. He struck out a fair amount of batters, didn’t walk too many and even limited home runs pretty well. This year, he’s striking out fewer hitters, but he’s also limiting the free passes even better, which has led to better results even though the underlying stats probably portrayed a better picture last season. The big righty runs his fastball up at 93-94 and it’ll touch 96 at times. It’s been excellent this year. His sinker, on the other hand, has been mauled to the tune of a .389 average and .833 SLG. Of course, it’s only in 18 plate appearances, but it’s still striking to see those numbers. He’s the type of pitcher who, if he’s not on, the Royals offense could do some damage against. But if he’s on, they might find some trouble.

Brad Keller is extremely frustrating. His command issues are just so bad right now that it’s hard to trust him on any given night. It’s not just the walks. He’s missing in the zone way too often. His Opening Day start was great, but is still really skewing his numbers a lot. In seven starts since, he’s posted a 4.69 ERA with 27 walks in 40 13 innings and just 31 stirkeouts. It’s really a testament tto him that he’s gutting out innings and getting the ball to the bullpen in a situation where the team can win, but he needs to find the zone better than he has or else he’s going to have a disaster start soon enough. The Phillies lineup is one that makes me wonder if this is that start.

Sunday May 12th - 1:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Cole Irvin (AAA) 6 36.0 2 0 15.4% 5.4% 2.25 5.51 ---
Jakob Junis 8 44.0 3 3 18.9% 7.1% 5.52 4.39 0.1

With Vince Velasquez finding his way to the DL, the Royals get the big league debut of Cole Irvin, a big lefty picked in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Last season, he threw 161.1 innings with a 2.57 ERA and this year you can see he’s at 36 innings with a very solid 2.25 ERA. He’s sort of the classic crafty lefty, sitting anywhere between 88 and 95 (which doesn’t seem crafty, but sort of is in baseball today. He’s not going to wow you with big strikeout numbers, but he also isn’t going to walk many either. We all know the type. His changeup is his best pitch, which is part of why he’s been successful against righties, but lefties have hit him decently (.667 OPS for righties vs. .778 for lefties), but he’s limited power against the lefties better. The Royals have typically struggled in situations like this, so there’s a worry here for sure, but it seems like this offense is in better position to take advantage of debuts than those of seasons past.

Jakob Junis is in a similar position to Keller that he’s just kind of frustrating. We know he has a bit of a home run problem that rears its head at times and did in his last start in Houston. But the Phillies might be a good matchup for them as they haven’t hit sliders all that well and we all know that’s his bread and butter. They swing and miss a fair amount on sliders, which isn’t necessarily unique, but could be good for Junis in this one. Plus, he’s likely to get the chance to throw to his buddy Cam Gallagher in a day game after a night game, so I have a feeling this is going to be a good game for him.

The Royals are such a weird team that it’s basically impossible to have any idea what to make of them, but I feel good about this series for them. I think of their three starters, they have a chance to get two good ones and take the series from the NL East leaders. What do you think?


How does this series turn out?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Royals Sweep
    (19 votes)
  • 20%
    Phillies Sweep
    (38 votes)
  • 18%
    Royals Take Two of Three
    (35 votes)
  • 51%
    Phillies Take Two of Three
    (97 votes)
189 votes total Vote Now