Our beloved ‘Ners enter this mid week series with the Philidephia Phillies after taking 2 out of 3 from the Cardinals. The Phillies enter the series hot, having won 7 of their last 10 and fresh off of taking three straight against the Rockies. However despite the recent success, the Phillies have struggled to start the year sitting at 11-12 heading into the series, and 4th in NL East. This will be the 5th straight interleague series for the Mariners; they have yet to play an AL team besides the Angels and the Guardians.
At a Glance
|Game 1||Tuesday, April 25 | 3:40 pm|
|LHP Marco Gonzales||LHP Bailey Falter|
|Game 2||Wednesday, April 26 | 3:40 pm|
|RHP Logan Gilbert||RHP Taijuan Walker|
|Game 3||Thursday, April 27 | 10:05 am|
|RHP George Kirby||LHP Matt Strahm|
|Batting (wRC+)||106 (5th in NL)||107 (4th in AL)||Mariners|
|Fielding (OAA)||-33 (14th)||1 (10th)||Mariners|
|Starting Pitching (FIP-)||87 (2nd)||106 (8th)||Phillies|
|Bullpen (FIP-)||91 (3rd)||95 (7th)||Phillies|
The Phillies, much like the Mariners, are off to a slow start, sitting fourth in the NL East. They’ve begun to surge recently, coming into the series on a three game winning streak but it remains to be seen if they can keep this pace up against more competitive teams. So far, their offense has been great, top 5 in the majors in most offensive categories. The pitching, however, has left a lot to be desired. Both Arron Nola and Zach Wheeler have struggled to start the year, and the bullpen, outside of Jose Alverado, has had its own issues. On top of that, the Phillies continue to struggle with their defense; the addition of Brandon Marsh at last year’s trade deadline helped some, but the Phillies still remain close to the bottom half of the league in OAA. The offense has kept them in games so far this season, but the pitching will need to step up if the Phillies hope to make a deep run again.
First and foremost the Phillies can straight up hit, currently sitting top 5 in baseball in OPS, Slugging and Average, and sitting 6th in the league in OBP. It would be a mistake to take this line up lightly, even with the notable absence of two-time MVP Bryce Harper and their long-time starting first baseman Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies added Trea Turner over the offseason, who has followed up a spectacular WBC performance with a decent start to the season, slashing .293/.340/.434 and posting a wRC+ of 106. Hopefully Turner will not continue the tradition of WBC stars crushing the Mariners that Shohei Ohtani and Lars Nootbarr seem to have established.
Alongside Turner the Phillies are also returning fellow WBC team members Kyle Schwarber and J.T Realmuto. Both are supreme hitters who only add to an already dangerous lineup. More concerning still is Schwarber has seemingly dropped three points from his strikeout rate from last year and added two points to his walk rate, while it’s still too early to tell if this will remain a trend for him over the remainder of the season a more discerning eye from Schwaber could spell trouble for a struggling Mariners pitching staff over the course of the series.
The biggest wild cards for the Phillies are going to be the two young guns on the roster, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott. The latter started the year with a 17-game hitting streak. If his strong performance continues batting at the top of the order, Stott could be a real table setter for Schwarber and the rest of the lineup. Bohm had a rough go of it early last year, including being caught up in a media firestorm after getting caught saying “I (expletive) hate this place (Philadelphia)” on camera after making multiple errors in the same game. He received sarcastic cheers and claps from fans at Citizens Bank Park for making a routine play at third following two throwing errors. All seems to be forgiven now following a World Series run and a hot start to the season. The third year player seems to have taken a massive step forward and become a core contributing member of the lineup. So far this year Bohm has dropped his strikeout by a point and raised his walk rate by 4, while also slashing .302/.375/.453. Lets see if one of the best lineups in the NL can outlast some of the best pitchers in the AL.
LHP Bailey Falter
There are very few pitchers who can match Logan Gilbert’s elite release extension; Bailey Falter comes pretty close. Releasing the ball closer to the plate imparts additional “effective” velocity, essentially cutting down the time a batter has to react to a pitch. That’s helped Falter’s otherwise unremarkable fastball play up over its raw characteristics. On average, he’s adding around two miles per hour in effective velocity to his pitches thanks to his release point. He rounds out his repertoire with a pair of breaking balls and a rarely used changeup. None of his secondary offerings are standout pitches, so he’s really leaned into his fastball to find success.
RHP Taijuan Walker
A veteran now entering his 11th season in the big leagues, Taijuan Walker posted the best season of his career last year. His strikeout rate was a bit below his career norms, but he also lowered his walk rate, leading to an improvement in strikeout-to-walk ratio and a career-best 3.65 FIP. He hasn’t changed too much since his days as a Mariners prospect; his fastball and splitter still form the foundation of his arsenal, but he’s finally found a breaking ball to pair with those two pitches. In the past he had been throwing a slow curveball and hard cutter, but neither of those pitches were all that effective. This year, he’s added a sweeper to his repertoire and the early results have been very promising.
LHP Matt Strahm
A reliever for nearly all of his major league career, the Phillies signed Matt Strahm this offseason with the intent to use him out of their bullpen, but early season injuries have forced him into the starting rotation. As a prospect, he was projected as a starter because of his deep repertoire but was possibly miscast as a relief arm after earning his breakthrough into the big leagues as a member of the Royals bullpen. Finally given a chance to work out of the rotation again, he has responded with four solid starts, including a career-high 11 strikeouts in his last outing.
The Big Picture:
The AL West
|Team||W-L||W%||Games Behind||Recent Form|
|Team||W-L||W%||Games Behind||Recent Form|
The Rangers won two of three against the A’s over the weekend but started off a series against the Reds with an ugly walk-off loss. Their bullpen, which had been a strength to start the season, allowed three runs to score across the final two innings with two of the runs scoring on back-to-back bases loaded walks. Not to be outdone, the Angels also lost in ugly fashion last night, dropping a game to the A’s in extra innings. The tying run in that game also scored on a bases loaded walk. The Astros joined the loss party yesterday, falling prey to the unbeatable Rays in the first game of a three-game series in Tampa.