PHILLIES KEYS TO VICTORY OVER ROYALS
Get Some 1st Base Middle Order Production: with righties starting for Kansas City on both Friday and Sunday, the home fans at Citizens Bank Park may get a couple of more chances to cheer old hero Ryan Howard this weekend. And with the non-waiver trade deadline just four weeks away, it could very well prove one of the final chances to watch ‘The Big Piece’ in the middle of the Fightin’ Phils batting order. If that is how the lineup plays out, then Howard needs to produce. Same goes for Tommy Joseph, who probably gets the start in the middle game with the lefty on the mound for KC. Joseph was mired in a slump for the last three weeks of June. From June 8th on, the soon-to-be 25-year old (July 16th) has hit for just a .145/.167/.319 slash line with three homers and seven RBI. For the Phillies to get back to having sustained success, they simply have to get power and RBI production from the Howard/Joseph combination at 1st base.
Nola Return to Form: it has been a tale of two seasons for Nola. Over his first 12 starts the righty had compiled a 5-4 mark with a fine 2.65 ERA and .212 opponent batting average, allowing 62 hits over 78 innings. But over his last four starts, Nola has an 0-3 mark with a 15.23 ERA and .471 opponent batting average, allowing 32 hits over 13 innings pitched. That was not a typo, Nola has only gone 13 innings total over his last four outings. He has failed to even reach the 4th in any of them. He says he is healthy, the team says he checks out. His pure stuff seems strong, but he is obviously off. A pitcher this talented with as strong a collegiate and professional track record of success as Nola is not simply going to fall apart all of a sudden, not without being injured. I would expect him to begin bouncing back sooner rather than later, and this start would be a great time.
Play Fundamental Baseball at Home: as was highlighted near the beginning of this Series Preview, the Royals generally play strong, fundamental baseball. They don’t tend to make very many errors on defense, of either the physical or mental variety. The Phillies have been inconsistent defensively, which actually applies to every facet of their collective games in this 2016 bridge season. Against a team as solid as the Royals, the Phils need to keep their own mistakes to a minimum, whole maximizing their opportunities to score. The club is just 16-22 at home this season. They need to play solid, inspired, aggressive baseball this weekend and get the fans excited for the second half. That is, if they want to prove that this season is different from last, and show that they won’t again just sink to the bottom of the MLB standings.
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