After another odd Friday off, the Phillies will return to action today as they host the New York Yankees for a two-game weekend series. The Phillies, fresh off two consecutive walkoffs against the Braves, are 30-31 on the season and currently stand in second place in the National League East. Meanwhile the Bronx Bombers are 33-30 on the season, currently sitting in third place in the American League East.
Disappointing Starts to the Season, Recent Success for Phillies and Yankees
Having both recently hit the 60-game mark on the season, the Phillies and Yankees have left a lot to be desired for their respective fan bases. If this were the 2020 regular season (with extended wild cards) the Phillies would again have missed the playoff window. The Yankees, meanwhile, would only have made playoffs due to the extended wild card.
For the Phillies, a combination of a weak offensive showing, key injuries, and a lack of pitching depth have led to a mediocre season. Meanwhile the Yankees’ offense has been underperforming this season. No player greater exemplifies the Yankees’ struggles than DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu, who ranked third in the 2020 AL MVP vote last year, owns a .653 OPS on the year with only three home runs (he had 10 last year). Not only is LeMahieu hurting the Yankees’ offense, he is also hurting my fantasy baseball team’s offense as well.
But I digress.
Both teams have had reason to celebrate as of late, however. The Yankees are coming off a series victory against the Twins where they scored a combined 22 runs. After two consecutive walk-off performances and the emergence of Luke Williams, find themselves 5-2 on the month. Not only so, they also have improved their run differential (currently at -13) by 20 runs on the month.
Game One | Saturday at 4:05 | Velasquez vs. Taillon
The Phillies will throw Vince Velasquez to open up the series against the Yanks on Saturday. Velasquez had an unreal start to the season but has struggled in his two most recent appearances, allowing nine runs in seven innings of work. DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton have the most experience against Velasquez liftetime. In those at bats, however, they have only scraped up four hits, hopefully setting up Velasquez for a strong performance to get back on track.
Jameson Taillon will be on the bump against Velasquez on Saturday. With a 5.09 ERA on the year, Taillon has been less than desired after the Yankees traded four prospects for him back in January. Most recently, he allowed three runs over 5.1 innings of work against the Red Sox. Odubel Herrera will have a chance to continue his recent success with a favorable matchup against Taillon. Herrera is 6-for-10 lifetime against Taillon with one home run and three RBI.
Game Two | Sunday at 1:05 | Nola vs. German
In the most recent pitching rotation shuffle, Aaron Nola will start game two versus the Yankees while Spencer Howard starts Monday in Los Angeles. Nola has struggled as of late, though there is no easily diagnosable reason. With a 4.06 ERA on the season, Nola will look to capitalize on the Yankees’ struggling offense to get back going. Giancarlo Stanton will be Nola’s biggest hurdle to overcome as the outfielder owns a .308 lifetime average against Nola with two home runs in 13 at bats.
Domingo German will oppose Nola on Sunday afternoon. With a 3.12 ERA on the season, German has been a strong second act to Gerrit Cole in the Yankees’ rotation in the absence of Corey Kluber. Most recently, German allowed one run on three hits and two walks in 5.2 innings against the Red Sox. German will face a vast majority of the Phillies’ lineup for the first time on Sunday. Only Jean Segura and Matt Joyce have faced him in the past, combining for one hit in only six at bats.
Time for Phillies to Build Momentum
The Phillies have now won two consecutive series against divisional rivals. Combine series streak with an up-and-coming rookie making splashes and a new celebratory home run hat, and the Phillies are looking completely different. Unlike even two weeks ago, the Phillies have an energetic vibe to them.
I mean, look at these guys.
The team isn’t just giving up when the bullpen falls through or after a bad start from a starter. They will need to keep up the energy as well as that resillient vibe if they want a chance at catching the Mets in the division.
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