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Red Sox vs. Phillies Series Preview

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A look at the quick two-game set this weekend.

Red Sox Vs Phillies Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

SB Nation Blog

The Good Phight

The Opponent in one sentence

The Phillies have been a little disappointing this year considering the amount of talent they’d amassed in the winter, but they are still right there in the NL Wildcard race.

Record

76-70

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 0, Phillies 2

Trend

Up-ish. The Phillies aren’t really scorching hot right now, and one could probably argue they are closer to treading water than actually trending upward. They are, to their credit, coming off a series split against the Braves, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. They also took two of three from the Mets right before that, giving them four wins in their last seven games.

Pitching Matchups

9/14: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Aaron Nola, 7:05 PM ET

Eduardo Rodriguez probably only has three starts left in this season, with the Red Sox only having 15 games left on their schedule. With 17 wins under his belt, the southpaw now must win each of those outings if he’s going to get to 20 wins on the year. Obviously that is not solely in his hands and he needs help from his teammates to make that happen, but he plays a big role too. Rodriguez continues to have a standout season, having allowed zero or one run in three of his last five starts and getting his ERA+ up to an extremely impressive 130 on the season. He’ll have a different challenge here, having to bat as well as pitch in Philly. Rodriguez was not on the mound the last time these two teams faced off.

Nola isn’t quite on the same level this season as he was last year when he nearly won the Cy Young and was one of the best pitcher in all of baseball. Still, he has been very good in 2019 with a 3.70 ERA (which is 22 percent better than league-average in today’s run environment), a 3.93 FIP and a 3.37 DRA. Nola gets a bunch of strikeouts, but his command and control have taken a big of a step back this year. He did have a fantastic month of August in which he allowed no more than three runs in any of his six starts, but he’s allowed nine runs in ten innings over two starts in September. The bad news is the Red Sox saw him just a few weeks ago and Nola dominated to the tune of seven innings with two runs on seven strikeouts and one walk. The righty will feature a curveball, a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a sinker.

9/15: Rick Porcello vs. Jason Vargas, 1:05 PM ET

Rick Porcello isn’t trying to get to 20 wins this year, but his final starts are important given that, well, they are likely his last few appearances in a Red Sox uniform. It’s been a wild ride for the righty in this organization, something on which we’ll have plenty of time to reminisce after the season. For now, the focus remains on 2019 when he has undeniably been bad. Every pitcher has been negatively effected by the new baseball and the run environment in general, but Porcello just has not been able to overcome it. Command has always been the key for the righty, but in 2019 if you aren’t showing strong command and your stuff is not overwhelming, it can lead to a lot of big swings against you. That, in a nutshell, has been the story of Porcello’s season. When he faed the Phillies last month he allowed three runs over five innings with three strikeouts and four walks.

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Vargas started this season against the Mets, where he had a surprisingly solid run through the first half of the year. The Phillies then became desperate for bodies at the back of their rotation, and the southpaw was sent from New York to Philly back at the trade deadline. Since getting to the Phillies, Vargas has taken a step back. The big thing has been a dip in his strikeout rate, as he just hasn’t missed bats since changing teams. Although he’s never been a big strikeout arm, he needs to miss some bats as he doesn’t really have pinpoint control, either. This will be the first time the Red Sox see Vargas in 2019. He will feature a changeup, a mid-80s fastball, a sinker and a curveball.

Old Friends

Gabe Kapler was, of course, part of the 2004 Red Sox who broke the curse. He carved out a nice role as a depth outfielder with the Red Sox before moving on. Since then, he has worked in multiple roles around the league before settling in as the Phillies manager last year. He’s not the most traditional manager, but he’s been solid, albeit a guy who is prone to mistakes here and there.

José Álvarez was signed by the Red Sox out of Venezuela way back in 2005 before being traded to the Marlins in a trade that brought Jeremy Hermedia back to Boston. Álvarez has continued to bounce around since then, settling in Philly this past winter.

Notable Position Players

Bryce Harper has had a disappointing season in that he hasn’t been an MVP candidate every day in the middle of the Phillies lineup, but he hasn’t really been bad. The lefty has mostly been solid, hitting for power and drawing walks, but striking out a bit more than you’d like.

J.T. Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball at this point. His bat is solid for any major leaguer (111 wRC+) and outstanding for a catcher. On top of that, he is among the best defensive backstops in the game as well as being extremely durable. It’s a total package.

Rhys Hoskins doesn’t hit a whole lot of singles and his strikeout rate is a little bit higher than what you’re looking for near the top of the lineup, but he draws a lot of walks while hitting long dingers.

César Hernández is an underrated leadoff hitter. He’s not going to provide huge value at the plate as there’s not a ton of power, but Hernández gets on base despite his weirdly low walk rate this year.

Corey Dickerson has been fantastic since coming to the Phillies in July despite plate discipline that doesn’t really lend itself to consistent performance.

Jean Segura isn’t hitting for the power you’d like to see in today’s environment, but he consistently puts the ball in play and has the athleticism to take advantage of that.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Scott Kingery doesn’t walk and he strikes out more than you want, but when he puts the bal in play good things often happen.

Adam Haseley is up for his rookie year, and he’s been inconsistent as one would expect. There’s talent here, but you never know what you’re getting.

Bullpen Snapshot

Héctor Neris has had something of a bounceback year for the Phillies. He has been hurt by home runs, which is never something you want from a ninth inning arm, but he’s striking out a ton of batters with a solid walk rate to boot.

Mike Morin has not been able to get going with the Phillies, almost never missing bats despite a late-inning role.

Injuries

Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL back in June in an injury that ended his season before it was even halfway over.

Jake Arrieta went down with an elbow injury in mid-August and he eventually had to undergo season-ending surgery.

David Robertson has missed almost the entire season, and after trying to rehab from his early-season injury he underwent Tommy John surgery and could miss all of 2020 as well as the rest of this year.

Seranthony Dominguez was diagnosed with a small UCL tear earlier this year. He’s probably not going to be back in 2019, but he is rehabbing so it’s not totally out of the question.

Odúbel Herrera arrested for domestic violence and was suspended for 85 games by the league.

Roman Quinn went down with a groin injury almost a month ago, and the clock is running out for him to make his way back. It is still possible, though.

Edubray Ramos was on his way back from a shoulder injury, but it’s not clear if he’s still going to make it back. They were hoping he’d be able to return right around now.

Victor Arano underwent an elbow scope back in June. They were hoping it wouldn’t end his season, but at this point that’s looking less likely.

Pat Neshek underwent season-ending hamstring surgery last week.

Juan Nicasio is working his way back for a shoulder injury and should be back for the last few series of the year.

Adam Morgan went down with an elbow injury early last month and will not return.

Jerad Eickhoff had his season ended prematurely with a blister issue.

Weather Forecast

There is some rain in the area for both of these games down in Philly, but it looks like both games should be safe with the rain (hopefully) ending before first pitch.