Over a week ago, I began to write this article detailing the Phillies’ next series as they were set to host the New York Yankees. Then, everything changed when the Marlins attacked.
A week later, following seven days of non-action and zero players testing positive, the Phillies can finally return to the diamond. But of course, they will have to do so against one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Yankees, 7-1, went 2-1 against the Nationals to start the season before stopping for two days due to their canceled series in Philadelphia. Since the canceled series last week, the Yankees haven’t lost a game, sweeping the Orioles in two games and the Red Sox in three.
Following a mediocre 1-2 start and a seven-day hiatus, the Phillies are essentially restarting their season. Pitchers will be returning to the mound for the first time, batters will need to find their groove at the plate, and all against (arguably) the best team in the American League.
The Phillies are jumping right into the fire on Monday as they face Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole right out of the gate. Cole has allowed four runs in 11.2 innings over two starts so far this season. He allowed one run in a five-inning complete game (rainout) to open the season against the Nationals. On Wednesday, he pitched 6.2 innings of three-run baseball in a victory against the Orioles. Cole owns a 0.686 WHIP and a 9.3 K/9 through his two starts.
Given the restart, one would expect the Phillies to restart with ace Aaron Nola on the mound. Manager Joe Girardi has other plans, however. The Phillies will start right where they left off and have Jake Arrieta on the mound against Cole. Arrieta was scheduled to start last Monday prior to the restart and is looking to prove that he has moved past his spotty 2019 performance.
Tuesday’s starters have, as of this writing, yet to be announced. Given the current state of things and how both the Phillies and Yankees have changed up their rotation order due to changing schedules, it could be anywhere from Aaron Nola versus Jordan Montgomery to Zach Eflin versus Masahiro Tanaka.
- Update* Aaron Nola will face former Phil J.A. Happ on Tuesday.
Storylines to Watch
Didi Faces Yankees for First Time
Do you remember that break-up you had where, though you both agreed it was for the best, you still didn’t want to go through with it? Yeah, that’s the Yankees’ relationship with Didi Gregorius.
Didi’s five-year love affair filled the gap in Yankees fans’ hearts that was left by the retirement of Derek Jeter. And now, after Gleyber Torres came onto the scene last year, the Yankees no longer could keep Gregorius in town. So while Yankees fans may have a lot to look forward to in Torres’ career, they still harbor fond memories of their knight in shining armor.
Didi is batting 3-for-7 with two home runs through three games. As Didi returns to Yankee Stadium look for him to remain hot. Every time Didi comes up to the plate, he will do so with fans from both teams rooting for him.
Hot Starts and Ripping Dingers
Just as Didi has been hot out of the gate, a few other players on both sides have found themselves in hot starts to this odd season. For the Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton is batting .320 with two home runs and an OPS+ over 200. Stanton has been the consistent bat in the Yankees’ lineup while fellow battery-mate Aaron Judge has put the gavel down. Judge has hit six home runs in the span of five games and has 14 RBI’s on the season.
Regardless whether you call him “Goose”, “Barrels”, or “The High Street Hammer” (as a West Chester kid, I approve of Salisbury’s name choice), Phil Gosselin has quickly endeared himself to Phillies fans this season. A local boy out of Malvern Prep, the Goose is loose in his second year in Philly. Goose is 4-for-6 in on the season, including two home runs to beat the Marlins on Saturday. Look for Goose acting as DH during the series, potentially earning a spot start in the infield if a player cannot play.
The Haves and the Have-Nots
The Yankees possess one of the best bullpens in the league. With a star-studded lineup featuring Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and recently injured Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees own an experienced, deep bullpen that will be crucial in such an unusual season.
Then there are the Phillies. The Phillies’ bullpen has allowed eight runs in three-game to start the season. And while the Yankees have an experienced bullpen that can rebound, the Phillies’ bullpen is filled with untested, inexperienced, and underprepared arms. Matt Klentak chose to go with the young cheap arms in the bullpen to start the season, and the pen has already proven to be a problem. If the Phillies are planning to make a World Series run this year, something needs to give in that bullpen.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports