Phillies vs. Pirates series preview: Three things to watch

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 21: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies tags out Corey Dickerson #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates on a force out in the top of the second inning at Citizens Bank Park on April 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 21: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies tags out Corey Dickerson #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates on a force out in the top of the second inning at Citizens Bank Park on April 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 24: Nick Pivetta #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 24: Nick Pivetta #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

# 1: Starting Pitchers

This is an important series for the starters, plain and simple.  Nick Pivetta will get the start on Friday night, followed by Arrieta on Saturday, and Zach Eflin on Sunday.  Eflin has been great, so we just want to see him keep up the pace and continue mowing down lineups.

Phillies fans will be keeping their fingers crossed for game one when Pivetta takes the mound.  Some insurance runs early would be the best-case scenario, just saying.  In his last start, Pivetta went 1.2 IP, seven hits, seven earned runs, and gave up three home runs.

He has seen his ERA jump from 3.26 to 4.66 since June 1.

Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

Pivetta hasn’t looked like the same player that he was in May, but some struggles are expected from a second year pitcher.  Unfortunately for Pivetta, if those struggles continue then the Phillies may look to trade for a starter to replace him before the July 31 deadline.  A bounce-back game would go a long way for him, especially with Vince Velasquez on the 10-day DL.

On Saturday, Jake Arrieta will look to get back on track against the Pirates’ lineup.  He has not had a winning decision since May 29 against the Dodgers.  Over his last six starts he has given up 30 runs, only 21 of them earned, with seven home runs and just 21 strikeouts.

Speaking of all those unearned runs, the Phillies have committed 61 errors this season, trailing only the White Sox and the Cardinals for the most in baseball.  It hasn’t been all the fault of one guy in Arrieta’s starts, either.  NBC Sports Philadelphia noted that the errors have come from all over the infield.  Arrieta is a ground-ball pitcher, so it is easy to see why this is becoming a problem.

It would be great to see Arrieta have a good game and get some solid defense and run support.  He has been critical of the team’s defense, so a win would be good for the confidence of the team and for the pitcher himself.

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