Phillies vs Angels Series preview: Can Philly keep the good times rolling?

Bryce Harper Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper reacts after hitting an RBI-sacrifice flay against Chicago White Sox pitcher Tanner Banks during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In recent seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies have been plagued with slow starts of the gate. 2024 has not been the case. Following their weekend sweep of the San Diego Padres, the Phillies are now tied for their franchise record of 18 wins in the month of April with two games in hand to break the record prior to the end of the month.

Showcasing a strong combination of deep, quality outings from their starting pitchers and superb run support at the plate, the Phillies own their best record to start the season (19-10) since 2011 and currently stand 1.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves (19-7) for first place in the National League East.

The Phillies will finish off the month and their West Coast road trip with a trip up to Anaheim for a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels (10-18) are riding a four-game losing streak including having just been swept by the Minnesota Twins. They are 1-5 on their current homestand having taken one game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday the 23rd.

Turner Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies’ Trea Turner follows through after hitting a run-scoring single against Chicago White Sox pitcher Nick Nastrini during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Pitching Matchups

Following Taijuan Walker’s return from the Injured List, Cristopher Sanchez has shifted back into the fifth position in the Phillies’ rotation. This time around, Sanchez is set to face off against the right-handed Griffin Canning to open up the series on Monday night.

Despite a deceiving 1-3 record, Sanchez has been a strong asset to the rotation on the season, boasting a 2.96 ERA over five starts. The left-hander is coming off his worst start thus far, however, having only lasted three innings while allowing five runs (one earned) on seven baserunners in Cincinnati on the 23rd.

Canning, meanwhile, also owns a 1-3 record over his five starts but has yielded a 7.50 ERA across said starts. Most recently, Canning earned the win against the Orioles for the Angels on Tuesday having allowed three runs over five frames of work. Interestingly enough, this will be Canning’s first start of the 2024 season not against the American League East.

Tuesday evening’s matchup sports what could be a make-or-break start for Spencer Turnbull as he goes against Tyler Anderson. With off-days scheduled on May 2nd and 9th, it is unlikely the Phillies will be able to fit a six-man rotation for some time, per manager Rob Thomson, so this will be Turnbull’s last start before moving to the bullpen unless he can Thomson otherwise.

Turnbull enters Tuesday’s matchup with a 1.33 ERA, having struck out 30 batters over 27.0 innings of work on his five starts. Most recently, he allowed one run on three hits while striking out eight over five frames of work against the Reds.

Phillies Spencer Turnbull

He will face off against the Angels’s Anderson, who owns the Angels’ rotation best ERA at 1.78. Anderson took a hard loss against the Orioles last week, having allowed two runs over five innings of work. Over his last three starts, the left-hander has allowed at least three walks, demonstrating some potential command issues for the Phillies to exploit.

Fun fact: Tuesday’s matchup is a bobblehead giveaway at Angel Stadium: former Phillies prospect Logan O’Hoppe is getting a bobblehead!

With Turnbull getting Tuesday’s start, Zack Wheeler gets an additional day of rest and will pitch the getaway day start on Wednesday at 4:07 P.M. Wheeler will face off against Patrick Sandoval for the Angels.

The Phillies’ ace starting pitcher has performed just as advertised on the season, owning a 1.93 ERA while striking out 46 batters over 37.1 innings of work. Wheeler hasn’t allowed a run in his past two starts, combining for 13.1 innings of two-hit, 16-strikeout baseball on the stretch against the White Sox and Reds. Sandoval, meanwhile, owns a 6.33 ERA on the season and most recently allowed three runs on nine hits across 5.2 innings of work in a loss against the Twins on Friday.

Phillies Look to Keep Up Tempo

The Phillies have done exactly what they needed to start the 2024 season. Currently standing nine games over the .500 mark, the Phillies have only lost two series’ so far on the year (their first two against the Braves and Reds). Since then, they have not looked back, finding ways to take wins early on until the bats woke up as of late.

And when the bats woke up, watch out. Over the past 12 games, the Phillies have hit 21 home runs and currently lead the National League with 37 home runs on the season. Meanwhile, Phillies starters own the best ERA in the National League as well at 2.36.

Going into Anaheim, the goal for the Phillies is simple: keep up the momentum against a struggling Angels team.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum