This week is rife with NL East fun, with the Phillies coming to Seattle for a three-game series and the Mariners then flying out to New York for three against the Mets. This Phillies match-up is certainly the gentler way to ease back into some interleague play, particularly since weather issues forced the Phils to play a doubleheader Sunday before making the cross-country trek. The Mariners are coming off of a miserable 1-6 stretch, and this series offers the potential for a brief respite and/or get-right opportunity before the M’s head into the hurricane of the East.
(Author’s Note: Since we’re around a month into the regular season now, we’ll be using 2022 stats in these previews where appropriate.)
At a Glance
|Game 1||Monday, May 9 | 6:40 pm|
|LHP Ranger Suárez||RHP Chris Flexen|
|Game 2||Tuesday, May 10 | 6:40 pm|
|RHP Aaron Nola||LHP Robbie Ray|
|Game 3||Wednesday, May 11 | 12:40 pm|
|LHP Bailey Falter||RHP Logan Gilbert|
|Batting (wRC+)||106 (3rd in NL)||113 (5th in AL)||Mariners|
|Fielding (OAA)||-5 (11th)||-1 (9th)||Mariners|
|Starting Pitching (FIP-)||99 (7th)||122 (14th)||Phillies|
|Bullpen (FIP-)||93 (6th)||103 (12th)||Phillies|
Philadelphia is 12-16 on the season, good enough for fourth in their division. Where the Mariners have been inconsistent over long stretches - weeks of competency paired with weeks of agony - the Phillies have been all over the place on a daily basis. Crush the Marlins 10-3? Come back the next day to be crushed 11-3. To this point, they’ve avoided being swept, save for an inexplicable two-game series where the Texas Rangers trampled all over their toes. There’s plenty of pop in a lineup featuring Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and Jean Segura, but there has also been no shortage of defensive miscues and nearly half of their starting rotation is already on the IL.
FanGraphs gives the Phillies the edge for both starting pitchers and bullpen, but those machines clearly have not watched Brad Hand stand out on the mound and half-hurl baseballs at approximately 72 MPH. At the same time, though, the Mariners’ highly-ranked offense has been exceptionally disappointing of late, so that may even the scales. Though FanGraphs does not track nonsense (yet), this series could have the highest potential for nonsense of any one this season.
Listen here, Luis Torrens: For the next three days, whenever you’re not actively playing baseball, you’d better be transfixed by J.T. Realmuto, who remains one of the best catchers in MLB. Nick Castellanos has continued his reign of terror in red, though he’s easing back in after a wrist contusion had him day-to-day, and Mariners fans are certainly familiar with the mercurial talent of Jean Segura. Bryce Harper, who recently called for a closed-door meeting after a brutal loss to the Mets, has been heating up after a slow start but remains primarily corralled to the DH slot due to lingering elbow issues. Bryce Harper Ultralite, Bryson Stott, is in at shortstop this series for Didi Gregorious who was, you guessed it, recently placed on the 10-day IL. When in the lineup, Odúbel Herrera has been hitting the ever-loving crap out of the ball, but the combination of a lingering oblique injury and a complete inability to hit left-handed pitching has made his appearances inconsistent at best. Sensing a theme here?
LHP Ranger Suárez
After making his major league debut as a starter back in 2018, Ranger Suárez has spent the majority of the last few seasons as an up-and-down member of the Phillies bullpen. That’s where he started last year, even taking a turn in a high-leverage role for a short time. By August, Suárez was transitioned to the starting rotation and ran with the opportunity; across 12 starts, he posted a 1.51 ERA backed by a 2.35 FIP. With a sinker-heavy approach, he managed to post the third highest groundball rate among all starters with at least 100 innings pitched last year. His best secondary offering is a changeup that produces a similar amount of contact on the ground.
RHP Aaron Nola
Even though he’s been in the league for eight seasons now, Aaron Nola has had an interesting career trajectory. He quickly established himself as a premier starter after his debut in 2015 but he’s really struggled with a big home run problem over the last few years. During his first four seasons in the majors, his home-run-per-fly-ball rate sat around league average at 12.4%; over the last four years, it’s jumped up to 16.2% and it’s all the way up to 21.4% this year. That increase in balls flying over the fences has coincided with an increase in his strikeout rate (as well as the wonky ball issues MLB has dealt with recently), which means his FIP hasn’t really been affected all that much. Instead, his ERA has taken the brunt of the effects, sitting more than a full run higher than his FIP last year.
LHP Bailey Falter
Just a handful of starters in the majors have a higher release extension than Logan Gilbert; Bailey Falter is one of them. That’s a critical piece of his approach because his raw fastball velocity is rather unimpressive. But with his elite extension, he’s able to add more than 2 mph in perceived velocity to his pitches. He made his major league debut last year and pitched decently in a long-relief role for the Phillies. With Philadelphia dealing with some COVID issues in their rotation, Falter will likely get the call on Wednesday to make just the second major league start of his young career.
The Big Picture:
The AL West
|Team||W-L||W%||Games Behind||Recent Form|
|Team||W-L||W%||Games Behind||Recent Form|
Last week’s six game losing streak cratered the Mariners’ record, but the parity of the division only saw them drop to third. They do now find themselves closer to the fourth-place Rangers than the second-place Astros, though, which doesn’t feel particularly promising. The Angels have gone a reasonable 6-4 over their last 10, but it’s the Astros who’ve swarmed their way perilously close to the top again after an impressive 8-2 stretch. And in this week’s edition of schedule insanity, the A’s will play nine games in the next seven days, with scheduled doubleheaders on Tuesday and Saturday and a cross-country flight in between two bloated series. Yikes.