Series Preview: Phillies Head to Oakland for the Last Time

Bohm Diamondbacks vs Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott, right, celebrates his home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks with Alec Bohm (28) during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Philadelphia Phillies head to Oakland to take on their former Philadelphia neighbor, the Athletics.

It is ironic that the Phillies will be the first team to play the A’s following the announcement that the team is officially moving to Las Vegas.

While it is an absolute joke that Oakland is going to lose their baseball team, it just shows you what can happen when you have a commissioner who actively hates his own sport.

Regardless, this is a preview of the Phillies and the A’s, two teams who are heading in drastically different directions. The Phillies could really use this series to continue what has been a strong showing in June.

Staying Hot in June

The Phillies are coming off a very impressive series win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona had the best record in the National League before the Phillies absolutely took over the remainder of their season series. The Phillies end up going 4-3 against the D-Backs on the year, giving them an advantage in a potential tiebreaker.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott, right, celebrates after his home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks with Phillies’ Alec Bohm (28) during the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Phillies have won every series that’s started in June and have posted a 10-4 record. They are now 35-34 on the season and above the .500 mark for the first time since the middle of May. Another series win here could really start to separate them from other competitors.

Motivation > Talent

The Athletics are not a very good baseball team.

They were constructed to be a bad team, and we are watching the plot of Major League play out in real time.

The A’s have, however, gotten hot as of late. They recently won 7 straight, before dropping their last two games to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Oakland’s fanbase launched a “reverse boycott” earlier this week, where 27,000 fans came in unison to try and get owner John Fisher to sell the team. After last night’s move that Las Vegas will be accepting the team, there certainly won’t be any fans at this weekend’s series.

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, left, celebrates with catcher Garrett Stubbs after the final out in the team’s 5-4 win in a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Regardless of the attendance, the Athletics are playing with nothing to lose. They have been playing well in June, and they have no reason to lay down to the Phillies. While there is a massive talent gap between the two (and payroll for that matter), the A’s are going to fight.

If the Phillies keep these games close, they could be in for a rude awakening, which is why it’ll be very important that they take care of business.

Probable Pitchers

Game 1: Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.67 ERA) vs J.P Sears (1-3, 4.15 ERA)

Game 2: Cristopher Sanchez (not confirmed) vs. James Kapreilian (2-6, 6.89 ERA)

Game 3: Zack Wheeler (5-4, 3.73 ERA) vs Hogan Harris (2-0, 4.84 ERA)

Taijuan Walker and Zack Wheeler are clear favorites in their pitching duels this weekend in Oakland. Both pitchers have been really hitting their strides as of late, and if they can avoid walks, the A’s shouldn’t have much of a chance. These are both games the Phillies should win handily.

Where I would say there might not be a clear path to victory, is on Saturday. The Phillies will be rocking with a bullpen game, which has not worked well for them this season. There is rumors that Cristopher Sanchez will be promoted from AAA to get the start. Sanchez has started several games for the Phillies in the past and is a much better option than a bullpen game.

Regardless, if Walker and Wheeler can take care of Oakland’s lineup, the Phillies should leave this road trip with two series wins under their belt. Heading back to Philly with the Mets and Braves will be the real test to see if they are legitimate, but for now, taking care of business needs to be the top priority.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin