The Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays will take part in a home-and-home Interleague series this week in which each club will host a pair of games.
The fading Phillies are once again running into a winning team that is in the middle of a playoff race and that may be getting hot.
The Jays have won three straight games, four of five, and are 9-4 since the last time they were stuck at the .500 mark on May 29th. They are just 2.5 games behind both Boston and Baltimore in the AL East race.
As we well know here in Philly, our favorites have lost four straight and 17 of their last 22 games to fall five games below that .500 mark.
Toronto is a powerful, veteran team, 5th in all of MLB in home runs and 8th in doubles, but the offensive attack is largely reliant on that power.
Left fielder Michael Saunders is having a fine season, hitting for a .311/.386/569 slash line with 11 home runs and 32 runs scored.
With perennially injured star Troy Tulowitzki once again on the DL, utility man Darwin Barney has stepped up and produced with a .312 average, three homers, and 17 runs over just 134 plate appearances.
When the skipper turns to the bullpen it’s a fireballing 21-year old closer who he calls upon to finish things off. Roberto Osuna has a 1.84 ERA, 0.955 WHIP, a 35/7 K:BB ratio, and has allowed just 21 hits over 29.1 innings.
Former starter and ex-Phillie Gavin Floyd has converted well to the bullpen, and is featured among a large group of middle relief and setup right-handers that also includes Jesse Chavez, Drew Storen, Jason Grilli, and Joe Biagini.
For some flexibility and a lefty option, Gibbons can call on the ambidextrous Pat Venditte, who can effectively pitcher either left-handed or right-handed.
This looks on paper very much like yet another matchup where the Phillies simply cannot stay with the offensive output of the Blue Jays lineup. To have any success this week, the Phils are going to have to break out the lumber.
Next: PHILLIES - BLUE JAYS: PITCHING MATCHUPS