Baseball

Tigers vs. Phillies series preview: Phillies put rough stretch behind them

Matt Slocum/AP

Thanks to a couple of strong starting pitching performances, the Philadelphia Phillies (16-12, 1st in NL East) are now looking past it’s toughest stretch of the season. After a strong four-game series win against the Miami Marlins, the Detroit Tigers will be the the next opponent in this Phillies home stand. Although there were concerns heading into the series against Miami, the result produced the longest winning streak for the Phillies since their 4-0 start. Can they add to their win streak?

Pitching Match-ups and Start Times:

Tuesday 4/30, 7:05 p.m.: Spencer Turnbull (+185) vs. Vince Velazquez (-205)
Wednesday 5/01, 7:05 p.m.: Daniel Norris (+175) vs. Aaron Nola (-185)

Other than Jake Arrieta’s start Saturday, the pitching staff put together a good four-game series against the Marlins. Aaron Nola continued to show improvement from his early struggles. Then Zach Eflin had maybe the best outing any Phillies pitcher has had in the past two seasons with a complete game. Of course, the starting rotation will need upgrades come July, but for now it is far from hindering the Phillies.

Velazquez will take the hill in the series opener against the Tigers. He has been stellar in his four starts this season, producing a 1.99 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .195 BAA. One complaint about Velazquez has always been longevity, whether that pertain to a single game or an entire season. Although the health concerns still remain, the other should be put to rest.

Managers have been reluctant to stick with a starting pitcher deep into games. Some have even taken the route of starting a reliever for a few innings to begin a game. With baseball shifting it’s use of starting pitchers, Velazquez now seems more valuable than ever in the rotation. Forget seven or eight inning games, all the Phillies need is five or six innings each outing. Velazuez has provided that.

What to Watch For:

If I had to choose an MVP for the Phillies as of this point in the season, it would no doubt be shortstop Jean Segura. He was a catalyst for the Phillies four-game win streak to start the season and was a big part of Sunday’s 5-1 win to help the Phillies win its third in a row.

His absence from the lineup during his 10-day IL stint was a tough one for the Phillies. Thanks to his return, and good pitching, the Phillies have gotten past it’s toughest stretch of games so far this season. Now to see if this can translate to improved play from Bryce Harper.

It was a good series for Harper, knocking in five runs in the four-game series against the Marlins. Two runs came off of a home run in last Thursday’s 4-0 win and then a two-run double the next day. Those two hits were encouraging. Before his home run on April 26, Harper only had one RBI in his five previous games. With added pressure on opposing pitchers with Segura back in the lineup, Harper has some more help and could put his recent slump to bed.

Prop Bets (from Monkey Knife Fight):

Game 1:
Spencer Turnbull – o/u 4.5 strikeouts – Turnbull has been pitching well lately, with his ERA down to 2.77, but I have a feeling the Phillies will chase him out early. UNDER
Vince Velazquez – o/u 6.5 strikeouts – Velazquez isn’t the strikeout pitcher he used to be since his return, but this is not a great Detroit lineup and are prone to strikeout. OVER
Bryce Harper – o/u 1.5 hits + walks – This could be a good spot for Harper to break out of his slump. Don’t know how confident I would be to putting anything on this prop though. But, I’ll do it anyway. OVER

DFS Play: Vince Velazquez

Strikeout potential. Win potential. Cheap. There’s really nothing here that’s not to like with Velazquez for DFS purposes. I would say he is almost a must-start for the DFS slate tonight.

Other Notes:

It’s a short series against the Tigers, but this is an opportunity for the Phillies to pile up wins. The key for the 2019 Phillies is how quickly the team can squander a losing streak. That was the ultimate downfall for the 2018 Phillies season. It seems as though the additions to the roster have paid off and they are far from what we saw last season.

Also, it’s becoming quite clear that the Phillies may have found a secret weapon in their bullpen and it’s come from an unexpected name. For more on that, check out this great article from Greg Hall.


You can follow Jon Jansen on Twitter (@jjansen34) and e-mail him at jpjansen12@gmail.com.

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