MLB

Phillies vs. Cardinals series preview: Phillies look to finish strong against the NL Central

YONG KIM/TNS

The Philadelphia Phillies’ 10-game stretch against the National League Central concludes this week. Against the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, the Phillies earned a 4-3 record last week. While those seven games took place on the road, this series brings the Phillies back home for a three games against the St. Louis Cardinals. Can the Phillies take advantage of this short homestand?

Pitching Match-ups and Start Times:

Tuesday 5/28, 7:05 p.m.: Adam Wainwright vs. Nick Pivetta
Wednesday 5/29, 7:05 p.m.: Genesis Cabrera vs. Aaron Nola
Thursday 5/30, 1:05 p.m.: Dakota Hudson vs. Jerad Eickhoff

It’s not quite going so well for the Phillies starting rotation, but to patch things up the Phillies brought back… Nick Pivetta. Pivetta is getting his second chance this season after being optioned to Triple-A after posting an 8.35 ERA. There is some hope reserved for the promising Pivetta to turn things around, but there is doubt surrounding that notion.

At this point it feels that what we’ve gotten from Pivetta so far in his career, is what we can expect. Has decent stuff (just ask the spin rate truthers) and has shown the ability to punch out batters, but can’t seem to keep runs from racking up. Due to some erratic control on the mound, Pivetta walks too many and leaves too many pitches out over the plate.

Usually passes are given for poor rookie seasons, which is fair. In this case it may have just been a precursor. Pivetta in three seasons has posted a 6.06 ERA, 4.77 ERA and an ugly 8.35 ERA. Even if things do get better, how much better can it really be? It seems as though his 2018 campaign is as good as it is going to get, which isn’t great.

That being said, while I do think the Phillies want Pivetta to be in their long-term plans, I think they will move on quickly from him if things don’t go well. When, or if, the Phillies add another starter to the rotation this summer, Pivetta will most likely not be in the rotation, or even on the Phillies Major League roster.

Also on the hill this week will be Aaron Nola. The former Cy Young candidate hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season and it’s getting close to a point when he never will. So here’s to another start hoping that the 2018 Nola shows up.

What to Watch For:

As noted earlier, Odubel Herrera has been arrested on a domestic charge that occurred Monday night.

Who now fills the center field spot? Well, there will be more than one. Nick Williams has been brought back to the Major League squad and will be in a platoon situation in left field. While Scott Kingery and Andrew McCutchen will share center field duties. While that seems like the plan right now, it doesn’t seem like a long-term solution.

Kingery has taken some reps in center field already this season. While his bat has been a nice addition to the lineup, his defensive play in center field will, at some point, become exposed. Not to say Kingery isn’t capable defensively. There’s a reason why the Phillies will plug him in at any position. He is just not an every day center fielder.

To be honest, there may not be any permanent solution in center field. The Phillies may just have to do some patch work in the outfield. Although it is possible that the Phillies will add a bat to the bench, chances are that bat will be a cheaper option and just be, well, a good bat off the bench. With issues plaguing the pitching staff, the Phillies are more than likely to spend money and prospects to bolster that part of the roster. Will there be anything left to spend for another quality outfielder?

Prop Bets (from Monkey Knife Fight):

Game 1:
Adam Wainwright – o/u 4.5 strikeouts – Wainwright is obviously not the pitcher he used to be and that shows in his strikeout rate. But I have a gut feeling about this one. Wainwright may not shut down the Phillies, but I think Wainwright will be crafty enough to mow down a few today. OVER
Nick Pivetta – o/u 5.5 strikeouts – I wouldn’t go anywhere near this prop. His first start in his return to the big show and who knows how he will respond. If you want to though… UNDER
Total – o/u 10.5 – Two bad pitchers. Two solid lineups. Now 10.5 is a tough hurdle, but I’ll take my chances. OVER

DFS Play: Rhys Hoskins

What a tough game this is tough set a lineup for. One of the highest totals of the day, but weather could be a big problem. Do you risk it and scatter your lineup with Cardinals and Phillies or avoid entirely because of weather? If you’re at least going to put one in your lineup, make it Hoskins. While most are looking at his bad month of May, he is actually heating up in the past few games, with five hits in the past three games. Two of them being home runs.

Other Notes:

Let’s get caught up! With the news today and an impressive MLB debut, here’s the top Phillies stories in case you missed them:

Odúbel Herrera arrested on domestic violence charge, put on administrative leave by MLB

Nick Pivetta gets his second chance at a rotation spot Tuesday night

J.D. Hammer impresses in his MLB debut


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

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