Phillies vs. Tigers series preview: Continuing to survive

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The start of the second half of the season has been, well, OK. Not much movement so far as the Phils try to find their way back into the playoff race. There have been lingering rumors of the Phillies looking to add at the trade deadline, but that hasn’t happened yet. For now the players currently on the roster need to continue to survive or hopefully gain some ground in the National League East before help can arrive. That help may be on the roster of this series opponent, the Detroit Tigers.

Pitching Match-ups and Start Times:

Tuesday 7/23, 7:10 p.m.: Aaron Nola (-150) vs. Matthew Boyd (+140)
Wednesday 7/24, 1:10 p.m.: Vince Velasquez vs. Jordan Zimmerman

The first match-up of the series will provide a look at a potential Phillies trade target. There have been many teams linked to a possible trade for the Tigers left-hander, especially the Phils. However, Boyd has been in quite a slump since the start of June. Entering the month of June, Boyd boasted a 2.85 ERA, but since he has had his ERA raised to a 4.13. So it’s an interesting premise for game one of the series. It would be great to see Boyd perform better than he has, but of course, that would come at the expense of the Phillies.

Another interesting part of the first game of this series is Aaron Nola as well. After limiting the home run ball in his past four starts, Nola surrendered three homers in his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The home run ball has plagued Nola for most of the season, but when things were going well, he had been able to keep the ball in the yard. The Tigers don’t nearly have the same pop in its lineup as the Dodgers do, so the threat of the deep ball isn’t high. However, it would still be nice to see the Phillies ace shut down the Tigers offense for reassurance that he will not regress back to what he was in the first part of the season.

What to Watch For:

While Bryce Harper has continued to stay red hot and watch his numbers rise, the complete opposite is happening for Rhys Hoskins. The days of talking about Hoskins as a potential MVP candidate are long gone and the recent slump is concerning, more so for the timing of it.

For the season, Hoskins OPS sits at .917, which is very good. Then looking at the past week, two weeks and month, Hoskins has been getting worse. In the last 28 days, Hoskins has a .848 OPS. The last 14 days it goes down to .790 and the last 7 days it has dipped down to .652. Now the concern isn’t that the first baseman is regressing, it’s just the timing of the slump is coming at a time where the Phils need to survive in the NL East while the pitching continues to falter. I don’t think this will be an extended slide for Hoskins, but how quickly can he bounce back? Maybe his two-hit game, which included a home run, against the Pirates in the series finale is the sign of a turnaround.

Prop Bets (from Monkey Knife Fight):

Game 1:
Matthew Boyd – o/u 6.5 strikeouts –Even though Boyd has struggled to keep the ball in the yard, his strikeout rate his still very high. That shouldn’t change against the Phils. OVER
Aaron Nola – o/u 6.5 strikeouts – Nola has been very good against below average teams all season. Tigers are below average. OVER
Total – o/u 8.5 – The Phillies might be able to get to Boyd, but I’m not sold on the Tigers being able to run Nola out of the game early. UNDER

DFS Play: Bryce Harper

This will be sort of a heat check, mainly to check if there is still some heat left here. Harper has stalled the last two games and hasn’t homered since July 16. So either Harper is due or he may be starting to cool off. I’ll take my chances.

Other Notes:

As the trade deadline approaches, we have put together two lists of potential trade targets for the Phillies. Those two lists were split between targets in the American League and National League. Be sure to check out those two stories on who the Phillies could target and what makes the target appealing or not appealing:

American League Targets

National League Targets

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

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