The 2015 Philadelphia Phillies are losers. Long gone are the 5 consecutive NL East crowns from 2007-11, the powerful lineups filled with dynamic hitters, the pitching rotations filled with multiple aces.
The current version of the team has the worst record in Major League Baseball, and has occupied that lowly position for most of the season. They are returning home after a 1-5 road trip, and have now lost 13 of 16, including the last four in a row.
The 2015 Atlanta Braves are losers. Long, long gone are the 11 consecutive NL East crowns from 1995-2005, the lineups filled with NL All-Stars and propped up by a Hall of Fame starting rotation.
This current version of the Braves has completely collapsed. They have lost 12 games in a row, 19 of their last 20. Since peaking their heads above the .500 mark for a final time in 2015 with a win on June 1st, Atlanta has gone just 28-58.
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The end result for these once powerful, perennial World Series-contending teams is that they are left battling in this series for a rather dubious prize: the first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft to be held early next June.
The Phillies currently sit with the worst record in baseball at 53-84. The Braves collapse has pulled them to within a game of the Fightins with their 54-83 mark. So this series could be pivotal, if getting the top draft pick is something they, or you as fan, actually wants.
Despite missing a month and a half in the middle of the summer, 1st baseman Freddie Freeman leads the Braves with 15 homers. But in the 28 games since his return, Freeman has hit just .242 with 3 homers and 9 RBI. Center fielder Cameron Maybin leads the club with 60 runs, 52 RBI, and 21 steals.
The Phillies took 3 out of 4 in the most recent series between the rivals, which took place here at Citizens Bank Park ending July and beginning the month of August. For the full 2015 season to this point, the Phils have taken 8 of the 14 games between the two teams.
MONDAY: Williams Perez (4-6, 5.65 ERA) vs Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.89 ERA) – for once it’s not the Phillies who are throwing a rookie starting pitcher. Perez has appeared in 18 games, 15 of those as a starter. Since switching to the rotation in mid-May, he has been almost exclusively used in that role. The 24-year old righty was pitching pretty well for his first month in the big leagues. But beginning with a June 20th start, he has gone just 1-6 with an 8.49 ERA and a .324 batting average against. He has just a 21/24 K:BB ratio. That’s right, more walks than strikeouts. He has allowed 61 hits over 41.2 innings in that time. In short, he has been horrendous. Since returning from a month-long stint on the DL on July 30th, the 37-year old vet Harang has not been much better. He has gone 1-3 with a 7.17 ERA in that time, with a 17/16 K:BB, allowing 51 hits in 37.2 innings. This one could be real boon to the batting averages and overall offensive statistics for hitters on both teams.
TUESDAY: Matt Wisler (5-6, 5.81 ERA – tentative) vs Aaron Nola (5-2, 4.02 ERA – tentative) – the matchups for this one are completely up in the air at this point. The Phillies are considering going to a 6-man rotation, so this start could conceivable go to someone like David Buchanan or even Jerome Williams. It appears as if they will delay moving to that 6-man process at least past this Nola start. The Phils’ 22-year old rookie had been outstanding across the first 8 starts of his big league career, but laid an egg finally in his last outing at Citi Field last week. He has thrown 163 innings to this point, so we shouldn’t expect to see much more of him in 2015, and he could simply be shut down at any point. Also 22 years old, Wisler has gone 139.1 innings, after going 136 back in 2013, and 146.2 last year. The Braves used him for two innings out of the bullpen on September 6th, so it is unclear if he would make this start, or on Wednesday, or at all this series. He should be ready to make a few more starts for Atlanta this season at some point.
WEDNESDAY: Julio Teheran (9-7, 4.51 ERA) vs Jerome Williams (4-10, 5.99 ERA – tentative) – the Phillies are believed to be prepping to go to a 6-man rotation soon, as speculated by Matt Breen with Philly.com recently. This is actually rookie lefty Adam Morgan‘s turn, but there is a good chance this will be the time to bump the rookies back a day. If it’s Williams, it would be the 33-year old veteran’s first start in two weeks. He has had a poor season, and that hasn’t improved at all out of the bullpen. If it’s Morgan, it would be a 14th start for the 25-year old. He has been blasted in 2 of the last 3 starts, but should still have innings to give. Personally, I might just skip a Nola start, rather than bumping back Morgan. But that’s me.
PHILLIES KEYS TO SERIES VICTORY
Swing away! – I’m not saying that the Phillies pitching is any better. But the Braves are going to be running some starting pitchers out there in this series who have been struggling mightily in 2015, to say the least. They are probably going to toss three right-handers, so this should be a chance for Ryan Howard to turn back the clock for the home fans one more time at CBP. That should also make Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche more dangerous as well. And as our Ryan Gerstel wrote earlier today here at TBOH, even righty swinging Aaron Altherr has hit right-handers well.
Game plan the rotation – With Nola’s innings rapidly rising, it’s time to actually begin the 6-man rotation process. I wouldn’t push him much past 5 innings, no matter how well he might be throwing in his start. The rest of 2015 can not simply be about trying to win games, though that is always important at the professional level, especially in front of home fans who pay good money for tickets to see a professional product on the field. But Williams and Harang are here to eat innings exactly in this situation. I’m sure it’s happening behind closed doors, but a public plan for the pitching should also be forthcoming.
Quality bullpen innings – There are sure to be plenty of innings for the bullpen to eat up over the next three nights. Whomever the Phils run out between the 5th and 9th innings, for the team to actually win it will take those relievers to come up with shutdown efforts leading to closer Ken Giles, who has been absolutely that very shutdown guy in the closer role.
Monday, September 7
1210 WPHT,/ 94 WIP,/ WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Tuesday, Sept 8
1210 WPHT,/ 94 WIP,/ WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Weds, Sept 9
1210 WPHT,/ 94 WIP,/ WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for Citizens Bank Park in South Philly
Clear, with a low around 69. Southwest wind 3 to 7 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 92. Southwest wind 5 to 8 mph.
Patchy fog after 2am. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 74. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light southwest after midnight.
A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 91. Light south wind increasing to 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind 5 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
INJURIES / DISABLED LISTS
|Foltynewicz, Mike (P)||09/03||15-day DL||Possibly early September||Costochondritis||Placed on 15-day DL on Sept. 2 retroactive to Aug. 29.|
|Frasor, Jason (P)||08/04||15-day DL||TBD||Right shoulder strain||Placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 4 retroactive to Aug. 2.|
|Grilli, Jason (P)||08/16||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from July 2015 Achilles surgery||Underwent season-ending surgery week of July 13.|
|Maybin, Cameron (CF)||09/06||Any day||TBD||Corneal abrasion||Not in starting lineup Sept. 6.|
|Minor, Mike (P)||08/22||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from May 2015 shoulder surgery||Underwent season-ending surgery May 13.|
|Olivera, Hector (2B)||09/06||Any day||TBD||Left foot discomfort||Not in starting lineup Sept. 6.|
|Rodriguez, Paco (P)||09/01||60-day DL||Possibly early September||Left elbow strain||Underwent arthroscopic surgery July 2; transferred to 60-day DL on July 6.|
|Simmons, Shae (P)||02/12||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from February 2015 Tommy John surgery||Underwent Tommy John surgery Feb. 12.|
|Winkler, Daniel (P)||04/05||60-day DL||Possibly late 2015||Recovering from June 2014 Tommy John surgery.||Placed on 60-day DL on April 5.|
|Withrow, Chris (P)||06/20||60-day DL||Possibly 2015||Recovering from June 2014 Tommy John surgery||Underwent back surgery to repair herniated disk week of Dec. 1.|
|Araujo, Elvis (P)||09/04||60-day DL||Possibly September||Strained left groin||Placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 28; transferred to 60-day DL on Sept. 4.|
|Billingsley, Chad (P)||09/01||60-day DL||TBD||Right flexor strain||Transferred to 60-day DL on Sept. 1.|
|Brown, Domonic (LF)||09/04||Out Indefinitely||Possibly September||Concussion||Exited game early Sept. 2; diagnosed with concussion Sept. 3.|
|Franco, Maikel (3B)||09/02||15-day DL||Possibly late September||Left wrist fracture||Felt pain in wrist while hitting in batting cage on Sept. 2; placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 18.|
|Harrison, Matt (P)||09/01||60-day DL||TBD||Lower back inflammation||Transferred to 60-day DL on Sept. 1.|
|Hollands, Mario (P)||04/20||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgery||Underwent Tommy John surgery April 8.|
|Lee, Cliff (P)||04/05||60-day DL||Possibly 2015||Left common flexor tendon tear||Shut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.|
|Pettibone, Jonathan (P)||08/08||Out for Season||2016||Recovering from July 2015 shoulder surgery||Underwent season-ending surgery July 22.|