A long, long time ago in a ballpark very close to us, the Philadelphia Athletics won five World Series titles before moving to Kansas City. Much better than the Phillies we know and love.
In a weird way, the Phillies vs. A’s is a Subway Series of sorts. They haven’t been in town for 67 years but it still counts as a crosstown rivalry. What’re a mere 2866 miles anyway?
Oh, did I mention? THE PHILLIES ARE BACK BABY! TIME TO WIN SOME BALLGAMES AND GET BACK TO THE PLAYOFFS! WOOOOOOOOOO!
With several exciting additions to the roster, the Phillies look primed to show the National League East what they got. Their first task at hand is the Oakland A’s. The A’s, meanwhile, don’t have nearly as many additions as they do subtractions.
The number of key players they didn’t bring back or traded away is as follows: Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manea, Chris Bassitt, Andrew Chafin, Jake Diekman, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Josh Harrison.
They subtracted a Gold Glove corner infield, TWO quality starting pitchers, two reliable relievers, and more! Plain and simple, this is a bad A’s team. So bad, that the Phillies should look to win/sweep this opening series. Let’s check the pitching matchups for the series.
Game 1: Nola vs. Montas
Frankie Montas had the best season of his career in 2021. He finished 6th in AL Cy Young voting, won 13 games, and posted a 3.37 ERA with 207 strikeouts.
It was a rare healthy season for Montas. He’s been in the league since 2015 and 2021 was the first time he pitched over 100 innings in a season. Outside of last season, Montas has a 4.21 ERA in his major league career.
Meanwhile, Aaron Nola is coming off his worst season since 2016. The 2021 season wasn’t a complete loss for Nola as he pitched his best game of his career against the Cardinals. He struck out 10 and allowed only two hits en route to a shutout on April 18th.
Nola will have to have better pitch selection on 2-strike counts if he wants to recapture his success from previous years.
This Opening Day nod will be Nola’s 5th straight. It should’ve been Zack Wheeler’s spot to shine but he got a late start to Spring Training.
Game 2: Gibson vs. Irvin
Who’s ready for a full season of Kyle “Gibby” Gibson?
Gibby made his first All-Star game in 2021. With the Rangers, he posted a 2.87 ERA in 113 IP. He cooled off significantly after being traded to Philadelphia but he should be fine as the Phillies’ 5th starter. His career ERA is 4.45.
Hey, I know that guy! Remember Cole Irvin? Well, he’s coming back to face the Phillies for the first time in his career. He found some success in Oakland last season, winning 10 games with a 4.24 ERA. On the flip side, he led the AL in hits allowed and losses.
Game 3: Eflin vs. Jefferies
Many people didn’t expect Zach Eflin to be available to make his first start of the season. Well, here he is fresh off of knee surgery.
Eflin had a 4.17 ERA before going down with injury last season. He’s seemed eternally primed for a breakout. Since coming up in 2016, Eflin has thrown 5 complete games. If he stays healthy, he should have every chance to show his potential.
Daulton Jefferies is fairly young (26) and has only started 2 major league games thus far. His lone start in 2021 saw Jefferies go 5 innings, allowing 3 ER, 3 hits, and 3 walks. He his listed as the A’s 10th best prospect on MLB.com.
Buckle up Phillies fans, baseball is back.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire