Series Preview: Phillies at Cubs


The Phillies (34-63) have opened the 2nd half of the season red-hot (5-1), with their only loss the 1-0 defeat on Nola Day. The club now travels to Chicago to take on the Cubs (51-43), who have won four out of seven games since the All-Star break. They are a full nine games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central race.

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The Cubs could find it tough to gain ground on the Cards, but they are in a solid position to take a Wildcard spot. They currently hold the 2nd Wildcard, with a half-game lead over the Giants.

With the trade deadline looming, the Cubs could look to improve their chances by making a big move. According to CBS Chicago reports, they’ve checked in on Tiger’s ace David Price. Of course, there are also rumors of the Phillies being in talks with the Cubs about Cole Hamels.

As good as Chicago has been on the mound, they’ve struggled on offense. Leading the offensive attack have been a pair of NL All-Stars in 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo (.287/.402/.513, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 13 SB) and 3rd baseman Kris Bryant (.258/.367/.449, 12 HR, 54 RBI, 10 SB), as well as outfielder Chris Coghlan (.254/.345/.423, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 7 SB).

The Phillies have been very hot lately, largely in part to a suddenly productive offense led by outfielder Ben Revere (.300/.338/.380, 1 HR, 26 RBI, 22 SB), rookie 3rd baseman Maikel Franco (.283/.340/.481, 10 HR, 35 RBI), and Wednesday’s hero, Rule 5 pick outfielder Odubel Herrera (.275/.304/.407, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 9 SB).

This series will take place on the North Side in the friendly confines of classic Wrigley Field, home to the team since 1916. The ballpark has the dimensions of 355, 400, and 353 feet to left, center, and right field. By comparison, CBP is 329, 401, and 330 feet to those same points.

Wrigley’s outfield dimensions are a bit larger, but the ballpark also experiences all sorts of wind changes which can play very much for or against the pitcher. Wind blowing out can mean some legendary high scores, and tons of homers.


Jerome Williams (3-7, 6.43) v. Jon Lester (5-8, 3.37 ERA) – Williams is set to make his first appearance returning from the DL after suffering a hamstring strain. He had a 4.02 ERA over three rehab starts in Lakewood and Reading. Given that he has allowed batters to hit .331 off him so far this year, Williams was not very effective before his injury. He’d probably love to put that behind him and use this opportunity as a fresh start. Williams will likely have little room for error as he is pitted against an ace in Lester. While Lester may not be pitching as well as he did in 2014 (2.46 ERA, 220 SO), he’s still doing a fine job for the Cubs. In his last outing, he was dominant over the Braves (7.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 7SO). It would not be surprising if he put up a similar line against the Phils.

Jul 18, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA;

Cubs starting pitcher Lester (34) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field.

(Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Cole Hamels (5-7, 3.91) v. Jake Arrieta (11-5, 2.52 ERA) – With two straight abysmal starts, Hamels is sending scouts across baseball into a fret, warranted or not. Whether Hamels is hurt (seems unlikely), bothered by the trade talks, or just unmotivated on this team, he needs to figure out what ails him quickly. The Phillies really need him to deliver a gem, and have all the ridiculous talk stop. Meanwhile, Arrieta is having another terrific season for the Cubs. He’s just 28 innings and 34 strikeouts away from tying his career highs in both those categories. Arrieta followed up his third career complete game with another brilliant start (7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 10 SO) in Atlanta on Sunday. He too will be looking to mow down the Phils.

Aaron Nola (0-1, 1.50 ERA) v. Jason Hammel (5-4, 2.82 ERA) – Plenty of eyes will be on Nola again to see how he follows up such a stellar debut (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 SO) this Sunday. With the exception of one homerun ball, Nola appeared dominant against the Rays. The rookie will be looking for his first career victory when he toes the rubber in the series finale. Run support may be a struggle again with a tough opponent in Hammel, who could still be getting over a hamstring injury he suffered on July 8th. After throwing a side session, he returned to the mound to put up a decent, but fairly short start (5 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 SO) his last time out. Most likely the hamstring issues are now in the past, but if not, he’ll attempt to shake them off when he takes the mound on Sunday.


Patient At-Bats – With the starting pitching staff that Chicago is putting out this weekend, the Phils could be in for a rough couple of games. Their best bet is to be patient and see a lot of pitches to try to get the starters out as soon as possible. Then, they can hopefully take a shot at the bullpen. Herrera showed the results of how such great at-bats can be when he smacked a walk-off hit on Wednesday.

Hamels and Nola – If both pitchers play to their ability, they could certainly make this series interesting and give Chicago a run for their money. It’s also worth mentioning that these are both critical starts for the future of the franchise. Phillies brass and fans would love to see Nola build on a fantastic debut and pick up that all-important first MLB victory. They would also love to see Hamels have a bounce-back start and show everyone that he is the same pitcher as always. If he doesn’t, the questions will continue to flow and potentially make it tougher to trade him. Of course, Hamels could be gone by then too. There is a longshot possibility that Hamels could even be making his start in a Cubs uniform. In any event, with the MLB non-waiver deadline next Friday, this could be Hamels final start in Phillies pinstripes.


Friday: 4:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM

Saturday: 4:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM

Sunday: 2:20 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois


Mostly sunny, with a high near 87. South wind 10 to 15 mph.


A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 4am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 72. South southwest wind around 10 mph.


A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 83. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north-northeast in the afternoon.

Saturday Night

A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 10 mph.


A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 78. Light east-southeast wind becoming east 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.


CUBSLast UpdatedStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
La Stella, Tommy (2B)07/1760-day DLTBDRight rib cage inflammationDoing baseball activities in Arizona as of July 17 update; transferred to 60-day DL on July 4.
Montero, Miguel (C)07/2215-day DLTBDLeft thumb sprainWas expected to see hand specialist July 17; placed on 15-day DL on July 17 retroactive to July 13.
Rosscup, Zac (P)07/2115-day DLTBDLeft shoulder inflammationSent on Double-A rehab assignment July 21; placed on 15-day DL on June 17.
Turner, Jacob (P)06/1460-day DLTBDRight shoulder inflammationSent on Double-A rehab assignment June 9; transferred to 60-day DL on April 19.
Wada, Tsuyoshi (P)07/1115-day DLPossibly JulyLeft deltoid inflammationSent on Triple-A rehab assignment July 11.

PHILLIESLast UpdatedStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Billingsley, Chad (P)07/2115-day DLTBDRight flexor strainPlaced on 15-day DL on July 21 retroactive to July 19.
Franco, Maikel (3B)07/22Any dayDay-to-dayRight elbow sorenessExited game early July 20; not in starting lineup July 21-22; pinch-hit July 22.
Harang, Aaron (P)07/2215-day DLPossibly late JulyPlantar fasciitis in left footThrew 80 pitches in simulated game July 20; placed on 15-day DL on July 2.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)07/2460-day DLTBDRight shoulderWas scheduled to undergo surgery July 22.
Utley, Chase (2B)07/2015-day DLPossibly late JulyRight ankle inflammationDoing baseball activities, could begin Minor League rehab stint in late July as of July 20 update.