MLB

Phillies vs. Nationals series preview: Phillies pitching staff, take a bow

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A 162-game season can provide many peaks and valleys and the Philadelphia Phillies (17-13, 1st in NL East) short two-game series against the Detroit Tigers was a good example of that. After game one was maybe the lowest point of the Phillies season so far. Boos came down on the Phillies prized outfielder and it looked like the Phillies were continuing its slump. Then the next day came a seven-run performance that resulted in the Phillies fourth win in five games. What Phillies team are we going to see when divisional foe Washington comes to Philadelphia.

Pitching Match-ups and Start Times:

Friday 5/03, 7:05 p.m.: Jeremy Hellickson (+149) vs. Jerad Eickhoff (-166)
Saturday 5/04, 7:05 p.m.: Patrick Corbin (+105) vs. Jake Arrieta (-115)
Sunday 5/05, 7:05 p.m.: Anibal Sanchez vs. Zach Eflin

Phillies pitching has only had one blunder this week. Other than the nine allowed runs against the Marlins on April 27, the Phillies staff has held teams to zero, one, three and three runs. The low-run total in the past week can mostly be attributed to some unlikely play from the back-end of the rotation. Especially Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff.

While Nick Pivetta was being touted at the start of the season, Eflin and Eickhoff were not getting any attention. In the their past two starts, it’s what we should be talking about most. Eflin pitched the first complete game for the Phillies since 2017. A couple games before that, Jerad Eickhoff surrendered only two hits in seven shutout innings.

Come July, it’s possible that both Eflin and Eickhoff may not even be in the starting rotation. For now, it reinforces why the Phillies aren’t in a rush to make a move at the moment. From now until July it is up to Eflin and Eickhoff to continue to help the Phillies and so far they’ve done that, and a little extra.

Oh, and Adam Morgan still has not allowed a run. Remarkable.

 

What to Watch For:

So, have the Phillies bats returned?

Game one against the Tigers seemed like a setback for an offense that started to come alive again. Then a win in game two completely shifted the narrative for the Phillies lineup:

It helps that the pitching staffs for the Marlins and Tigers aren’t very good, but that may have been what the Phillies needed. Consistency from the lineup is going to be important as it is the biggest strength of the 2019 Phillies.

The recent success for the Phillies lineup has come mostly without the bat of Bryce Harper. His batting average has now dipped to .231 and is gone without a hit in three straight games. Although the Phillies are missing Harper, the team still has found a way to score runs and hold the top spot in the NL East. That won’t last forever though. The Phillies need Harper to play well, but for now Maikel Franco and company are picking up the slack.

Prop Bets (from Monkey Knife Fight):

Game 1:
Jeremy Hellickson – o/u 3.5 strikeouts – That is a very low strikeout total for Hellickson. While I don’t feel too comfortable with it, I have a feeling the Phillies will get to Hellickson early. UNDER
Jerad Eickhoff – o/u 5.5 strikeouts – Eickhoff has had six or more strikeouts in his three appearances this season. OVER
Run Total – o/u 9 – Again, I think the Phillies pounce on Hellickson early and Eickhoff is prone to surrender a few runs as well. OVER

DFS Play: Rhys Hoskins

Hoskins has a hit in five straight games and also has two home runs in that span. Love the home run potential for Hoskins and is one of the cheaper options for a top first baseman. Also, this may be a good opportunity to do a mini-stack with the Phillies against Hellickson.

Other Notes:

Jimmy Rollins retirement night is May 4. Fans will receive a replica 2008 World Series Championship ring. This puts a stamp on the the Phillies-era with the core group of Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. It really is incredible to think about the legacy those three have left behind. While those three may not be considered the two or three best Phillies players of all time, they certainly were part of the best era in Phillies history. Any chance we get to celebrate what those three did for the franchise should never be taken lightly. Soon enough, I hope we see the numbers 11, 6 and 26 retired some day.


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

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