This past weekend, the Philadelphia Phillies did what they do best: Lose a series to the New York Mets.
Now that they’ve demonstrated a consistent inability to beat one of baseball’s bad teams, the Phillies will now have the opportunity to fly across the country and face one of baseball’s good teams. They’ll head to (presumably) sunny California to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Yes, it’s another one of those wacky interleague series that the fans have grown increasingly indifferent about. Earlier in the season, the Phillies had all sorts of trouble against American League teams, but they were able to sweep the Astros last week. (It’s still weird that the Astros are an American League team.)
That could be a sign that things are improving…or just a sign that the Astros are horrible. If they can beat the Angels, it might truly be a sign that they’ve really turned the corner against American League teams.
With a 10:05 PM start time in the east, the games will be on too late for many Phillies fans. But you might want to re-consider an early bed time once you hear who Tuesday night’s starting pitcher will be.
The last time they met
The Angels visited Philadelphia in May for a two-game series that was basically a drawn-out plea for Mike Trout to join the Phillies when he becomes a free agent. (Or perhaps earlier once the Angels realize that due to oversized contracts given to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, they can’t afford Trout any longer.)
The two-game series highlighted the worst of the 2014 Phillies. The first game featured a defensive meltdown by Cody Asche, and the second game was a 3-0 loss in which the Phillies managed to get only five baserunners aboard.
What’s new with the Angels
The Angels are 3.5 games back in the American League West, and tied at the top of the wild card standings.
Their offense has been strong and is the second highest scoring team in the league. Naturally, the offensive attack is led by Trout who is in the midst of another excellent season. (I just hope he doesn’t burn himself out before he has a chance to join the Phillies.)
Angels player who isn’t entirely horrible
Albert Pujols may have lost his unofficial “best player in baseball” title a few years ago, but he’s still been a very productive player. With 22 home runs and a .800 OPS, Pujols has been a big part of the Angels’ offense.
Sure, that contract isn’t going to age well, (They’ll pay him $29 million in his age 39 season!) but for now, the Angels can’t complain too much.
Angels player who is horrible
Former Phillie John McDonald has never been regarded as a strong offensive player. He’s had a 15 year career as a backup infielder, mostly because he can play defense at an above average level.
But even the best defenders need to be able to hit a little, and McDonald has hit at a Michael Martinez level this season. His OPS is currently .425, and if he finishes at that level, this would be his second straight season of a sub-.500 OPS.
It should also be noted that the Phillies traded him away last August and actually got something in return! In exchange for McDonald, the Phillies acquired minor league reliever Nefi Ogando, who is currently pitching for their Double AA affiliate.
Starting Pitcher Report
Here’s a quick look at the starting pitchers the Phillies will be facing:
Wilson once looked like an emerging star, but since signing an expensive free agent contract with the Angels (notice a trend?), he never took that expected step forward.
In his first two years with the Angels, he pitched well enough, but he’s taken a major step back this season. His 4.82 ERA is more than a full run higher than last year.
Wilson was placed on the disabled list in mid-July due to a sprained ankle, and he hasn’t exactly come back strong. He’s surrendered ten earned runs in seven innings over two starts since his return.
That said, would it surprise anyone if he gave up only one run in seven innings against the Phillies tonight? And really, considering who is going to be opposing him, he can probably count on plenty of run support.
Weaver has spent his entire nine-year career with the Angels, and has been one of the most consistent players in baseball over that time. He’s not an ace, but aside from an excellent 2011 season that appears to be somewhat of an outlier, Weaver has generally been the type of above average mid-rotation starter that every contending team needs.
That’s exactly what the Phillies thought they were getting when they signed their starter for Wednesday night. However, either due to age, injury, or just general disinterest in pitching for a bad team, A.J. Burnett has had a disappointing season.
Token note about the Phillies
If I was Sean O’Sullivan, I wouldn’t feel all that good about my status in the Phillies’ organization.
The young journeyman (He’s only 26 and has already pitched for four teams) has made two starts for the Phillies this season, and neither went particularly well. But at his age, he theoretically could improve.
The Phillies apparently disagree. Instead of giving O’Sullivan another shot, the Phillies opted to pick up Jerome Williams on waivers and start him on Wednesday night.
This raises an important question: Who is Jerome Williams?
Ten years ago, Williams showed promise. Pitching for the Giants, he won ten games in his second full season. But he was never able to build on that promise, and has bounced around the league. He’s pitched for six teams, failing to experience much success with any of them. His career ERA is 4.41 which looks good compared to the 6.71 mark he’s recorded this season.
Maybe the Phillies are hoping that team number seven will be the lucky one? Or maybe this is just a ploy to show us that there actually are starters worse than Kyle Kendrick out there.
I have a suspicion that Phillies fans might soon become wistful for the good old days of Roberto Hernandez.
When these teams played in Philadelphia, the Angels appeared to be far superior. Considering that the Phillies will be starting Jerome Williams in one of the games, I don’t think much has changed. Look for the Angels to win both games.