Phillies vs Rangers: Five questions to ask going into the series

Jul 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (48) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (48) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 5, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (43) in action against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (43) in action against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Can Nick Pivetta Handle an American League Lineup?

Nick Pivetta started off 2017 dominating Triple-A hitters, prompting the Phillies to promote him to the majors when Aaron Nola went on the disabled list. He has done anything but dominate in three starts since being called up.

Through 14.2 innings, Pivetta has given up 10 earned runs, five home runs, and five walks. In his last two starts – both against Washington’s fearsome lineup – Pivetta gave up four runs, allowed nine baserunners, and didn’t last beyond the fifth inning. While Pivetta has recorded 16 strikeouts in the majors, it hasn’t been enough to carry over his success from Triple-A.

May 8, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo (13) reacts after striking out during the ninth inning San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo (13) reacts after striking out during the ninth inning San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Pivetta’s task doesn’t get any easier Thursday when he has to face an American League lineup with a designated hitter. He doesn’t get the chance to face the opposing pitcher, instead facing a player whose entire game is predicated on offense.

Thankfully, the Rangers aren’t among the deadliest lineups in the AL. Their collective 89 wRC+ is 12th among all AL teams. However, they still have multiple dangerous players in their lineup lead by Joey Gallo, who has 12 home runs through 39 games, and Elvis Andrus, who has a .790 OPS and 114 wRC+ for the season.

Pivetta was tested early with the Nationals and Dodgers, and he gets another test facing the first American League team of his major-league career. With Nola making his second rehab start Monday, this may be Pivetta’s last chance to show his worth at the major-league level before Nola comes back.

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