A day off won’t be able to cool down the good vibes surrounding the Phillies.
After winning 6 of their last 8 games, the Phillies have found themselves right back in the mix. Sitting at 11-12 on the season, they have climbed out of the 1-5 hole they dug into at the start of the 2023 season.
The Phils aren’t going to be playing the Reds, White Sox, and Rockies anymore. They welcome the Seattle Mariners to town for a 3-game series, before hitting the road to take on the Houston Astros this weekend.
Seattle is entering the series at 10-12, after a rough start to their season. The Mariners and Phillies are both coming off the best seasons of the last decade and Seattle ended their season in the ALDS against the Houston Astros.
Led by reigning AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez and a starting rotation containing Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby, the Mariners will be a tough task for the Phillies.
The Seattle Mariners have one of the better rotations in Major League Baseball on paper. Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Marco Gonzales, and Robbie Ray, are a very deep rotation when healthy. The Phillies will luckily miss Castillos and Ray, who is currently on the Injured List.
Game 1 will feature Logan Gilbert, a 25-year-old right-hander who is one of the best up-and-coming starters in the game. Gilbert is coming off a season where he went 13-6, with a 3.20 earned run average and 174 strikeouts.
Logan faced the Phillies last year when the team went to Seattle for an early series in May. He went 5 innings, allowing 4 earned runs and striking out 9 batters. He would suffer the loss in that game.
The pitching matchups for these three games are as followed:
Game 1 Bailey Falter 0-3, 4.50 ERA vs Logan Gilbert 1-1, 3.57 ERA
Game 2: Taijuan Walker 2-1, 3.80 ERA vs Marco Gonzales 1-0, 3.78 ERA
Game 3: Matt Strahm 1-2, 3.00 ERA vs George Kirby 2-1, 3.57 ERA
The Phillies will not be able to match the starting pitching that they are going up against in this series. While Walker is better than Gonzales, in the other two games the Phillies will have to earn their runs. Seattle also ranks 7th in ERA for their bullpen, so expect low-scoring games in this series.
The Phillies’ offense has been very hot and cold to start the season. After being shut out in Game 1 of the Colorado series, the offense woke up and helped carry the team to 3 straight wins.
Getting on base hasn’t been the issue for the Phillies, who rank 2 in hits and 3rd in batting average for the entirety of Major League Baseball. The issue has been hitting in the clutch and with runners in scoring position.
The Phillies proved they had what it takes over the last three games and will need to continue to do so against a tough Mariners club.
Brandon Marsh has not only been the best hitter on the Phillies this season, but he is quite literally the best hitter in all of baseball right now.
Marsh leads Major League Baseball in OPS (On-Base % + Slugging %). He sits .084 points higher than Max Muncy of the Dodgers, who leads all of baseball with 11 home runs.
Skipper Rob Thomson had made the mistake earlier in the year of not playing Marsh every day. I believe that he has fixed that issue and will have Brandon starting against lefties and righties, assuming he is healthy.
Marsh has been featured in the 5th spot in the lineup over the last week or so. The combination of Stott-Turner-Schwarber-Castellanos-Marsh has been really effective and gives me a little flashback to Rollins-Victorino-Utley-Howard-Burrell from ’08 (minus the power that lineup had).
If Marsh can continue to carry this lineup, the Phillies should be able to carve out another winning series and end this homestand on a strong note.
On this edition of Watson’s Watchlist, we’re going to highlight two players that I am watching in this upcoming series.
Since being recalled from Triple-A in the midst of 2022, Jose Alvarado has been the best reliever in all of baseball.
Jose has been simply untouchable to start 2023, and aside from the solo homerun he allowed to Jorge Soler, he has been nearly perfect.
Alvarado has struck out 20 batters and not allowed a single walk in his 10 1/3 innings of work. It appears that Rob Thomson has placed him in the closer role and I look forward to seeing him compete with Seattle.
Eventually, Jose will have to come back down to Earth a bit, but I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. I am watching his impact on these three games as the Phillies try and quiet a powerful Mariners lineup.
It hasn’t been a great start for the best catcher in baseball, but I still have hope for JT Realmuto.
The Phillies’ All-Star catcher may not be swinging a hot bat right now, but don’t forget how he carried the lineup last season when Bryce Harper went down.
JT will heat up and I think he might turn the page in this series with Seattle. I would expect him to play the first two games of this series and we will probably see Garrett Stubbs catch the finale on Thursday.
While the pitching matchups won’t be easy, I feel a good series coming from Realmuto. I am watching to see how he handles his next two games and I expect him to snag 3 hits in this series.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum