The Phillies come to town following a series win against the Dodgers. Even beyond just that, they’re on a bit of a hot streak, having won seven of their last ten. They had a lot of ground to make up though, and they still have a losing record of 32-33 and are eight games back of the equally hot Braves.
How bout them Dbacks, huh? They’ve (kinda) swept* three of their last four series, currently have a five game winning streak, and have seen Corbin Carroll start to get attention not just as a Rookie of the Year candidate, but an MVP candidate as well. The bullpen has been quietly phenomenal, which is a weird thing to write, and the offense as a whole has been firing on all cylinders. Even Pavin Smith has been productive! And we’ll get to the starting pitching in a second
*they played two games against the Nationals and won them both. I’m calling it a sweep
Game 1 — 6/12, 6:40 PM: Tommy Henry (3-1, 4.37 ERA/98 ERA+, 1.30 WHIP) vs Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.61 ERA/119 ERA+, 1.04 WHIP)
The month of May was a good one for Tommy Henry. Smooth sailing all month saw him put up an ERA of 2.87 in 6 games/5 starts. It took a lot of luck, as evidenced by a FIP that was almost twice as high as his ERA and a BABIP of only .221, and that luck did not make the calendar turn to June. In 4 1⁄3 innings against the Nationals, he gave up five runs on five hits, three walks, two home runs and only two strike outs. He has faced the Phillies once this season and held them to two runs in 5 2/3 , so there is reason to be hopeful.
This will be the second time this season that Matt Strahm has opened against the Diamondbacks. Last time, he made it two innings, giving up two runs. That game saw Dylan Covey get the bulk innings, taking care of innings three through seven. However, when Strahm opened on the third, it was a true bullpen game, with no pitcher throwing more than two.
Game 2 — 6/13, 6:40 PM: Zach Davies (1-1, 4.68 ERA/92 ERA+, 1.44 WHIP) vs Zach Wheeler (4-4, 3.91 ERA/109 ERA+, 1.12 WHIP)
Zach Davies is who he is. Outside of 2019 and 2020, he’s been +/- 10 points of league average by ERA+ every season, and including the aforementioned ‘19 and ‘20 seasons, he is exactly league average at 103. He’ll throw an average of five innings, and probably give up two or three runs, but will typically keep the team in the game. Last time out was one of his better starts, going 6 2⁄3 with eight strikeouts and two earned runs given up.
The last time the Diamondbacks faced the Phillies, they touched Wheeler up for four runs, three earned, in six innings of work. Since then, he has had a scoreless eight inning, twelve strike out start, a 3 2⁄3 inning seven run start, and finally a 7 1⁄3 inning one run performance. Given his season so far, probably somewhere in the middle is a reasonable expectation for the one time member of the All Time What Could Have Been rotation from the early teens Mets.
Game 3 — 6/14, 6:40 PM: Merrill Kelly (8-3, 2.92 ERA/146 ERA+, 1.10 WHIP) vs Ranger Suarez (1-2, 4.70 ERA/92 ERA+, 1.44 WHIP)
Don’t look now, but after Gallen’s bad start against the Tigers this weekend, Merrill Kelly has passed him in basically every statistic. That probably won’t stay that way for long (we hope) but it’s an interesting turn of events in the meantime. As good as Kelly has thrown this year, he hasn’t held a team scoreless since he threw 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers in his first, WBC affected, start of the season. That hasn’t stopped him from having a fantastic run of starts however, including pitching into the seventh inning while allowing two earned runs or less four times since the start of May.
Suarez’ season started late and took a while for him to get his feet under him. The low point was his start against the Diamondbacks where he gave up five runs in five innings. Since that game, he has seen much better results and has at a minimum completed the sixth inning in his three subsequent starts. His most recent outing was against the slumping Dodgers. The Phillies won that game, thanks in large part to Suarez’ six innings of one run ball.
Game 4 — 6/15, 12:40 PM: Ryne Nelson (3-3,4.95 ERA/87 ERA+, 1.45 WHIP) vs. Aaron Nola (5-5, 4.60 ERA/93 ERA+, 1.10 WHIP)
I have to commend Nelson. He has an innate talent for pitching his best games right when people (me) start to question why he is in the starting rotation still. Last time out, he temporarily silenced those questions once again with a scoreless outing against the Tigers. I’m still not convinced that he is a long, medium, or short term answer in the rotation, but between that Tigers start and Drey Jameson not really doing much better, he’s still there.
Out of 14 starts this season, Nola has given up four or more earned runs in eight of them. Not exactly the ratio one would want to see from a pitcher, to say the least. His most recent misadventure was giving up six runs to the Dodgers in 6 1⁄3 inning. Half of those were in the seventh inning, with a couple of them scoring after he left the game. However, as mentioned above, the Dodgers are in a bit of a slump and still were able to get to him.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Diamondbacks took two out of three from these same Phillies. They’re on a bit of a hot streak at the moment, but at the end of the day, they are still a sub .500 team, and the Diamondbacks need to take care of business. I think they end up taking games 2, 3, and 4, but the second bullpen game in a row will mess them up and they’ll lose game 1.