Phillies Series Preview: at San Francisco Giants
By Matt Veasey
FRIDAY: Zach Eflin (0-2, 10.80 ERA) vs Jake Peavy (3-6, 5.47 ERA): Peavy is a now 35-year old veteran in his 15th big league season, his 3rd with the Giants. He is a long way from his prime, when he won the 2007 NL Cy Young Award as a member of the San Diego Padres, and even his final All-Star season of 2012 while with the Chicago White Sox. Still, he has pitched very well over his last eight starts after a rough beginning to the season. In these last eight, Peavy has allowed just 35 hits in 43.1 innings with a 34/14 K:BB ratio. In four of his last five outings, the righty has allowed just one run or fewer. Eflin is making just his third Major League start. He followed up a disastrous debut against the Toronto Blue Jays with a very solid effort against Arizona, and is looking to establish that he belongs in the big leagues to stay.
Related Story: Phillies Call-Up: Zach Eflin
SATURDAY: Jeremy Hellickson (4-6, 4.41 ERA) vs Madison Bumgarner (8-3, 1.85 ERA): one of the best pitchers in baseball, Bumgarner is the lefty half of a potent 1-2, left-right punch that the Giants toss at teams. Lucky Phillies, they get to face both in less than 24 hours. Bumgarner is a 26-year old lefty who was San Fran’s 1st round pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft at 10th overall out of a North Carolina high school. He has grown to become a 3x NL All-Star, a 2x Silver Slugger winner, and was both the 2014 NLCS and World Series Most Valuable Player. Just beginning to enter his prime, this season he has allowed just 76 hits over 102 innings with a 115/28 K:BB ratio. Hellickson is, well, to put it plainly, trade bait. In fact, he may be the most valuable trade chip that the Phils currently possess. It is extremely important, both for his sake as he seeks a free agent contract this coming off-season, and the Phillies sakes as we move closer to the July 31st trade deadline, that he pitch consistently well.
SUNDAY: Aaron Nola (5-7, 4.11 ERA) vs Johnny Cueto (11-1, 2.06 ERA): Cueto is the righty half of that great Giants left-right, 1-2 punch with Bumgarner. Just prior to last season’s trade deadline, Cueto was dealt from the Cincinnati Reds, who originally signed him as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic all the way back in 2004, and for whom he had pitched over the first eight seasons of his career, to the Kansas City Royals. With KC, Cueto helped the Royals to become World Series champions. He then became a free agent, and signed a massive 7-year contract for nearly $150 million with the Giants, a deal that he may opt out of following next season. An NL All-Star and the Cy Young runner-up with Cincy in 2014, Cueto is pushing for those honors again this year. He has allowed just 87 hits over 109.1 innings with a 96/21 K:BB ratio. Nola is, right now, the best the Phillies have on the mound based on talent. However, the 23-year old has struggled mightily over his last three consecutive starts. In this worst stretch of his nascent career, Nola has failed to even reach the 4th inning in any of his previous three outings. That needs to change, and fast.
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