SB Nation Blog
The opponent in one sentence
The Phillies are still hanging around with a .500 record this season, working on the backs of a couple stars on offense as well as a good performance from the top of their rotation.
Down. The Phillies were playing really good baseball at the start of the month, but things have gone downhill over the last week or two. Philly has lost each of their last two series, including a three-game set this week against the Marlins, and overall they’ve lost five of their last seven.
5/21: Martín Pérez vs. Aaron Nola, 7:05 PM ET
There’s been a lot of talk, including from yours truly, about Nick Pivetta being the biggest surprise in on this Red Sox roster. I stand by that, but Pérez isn’t too far behind and he’s flying a bit under the radar. For most of the season so far he’s been about what we expected, a back-end starter who will keep the team in games. But as of late, he’s doing more than that. The southpaw has allowed just four earned runs (six total) over his last four outings, totaling 22 1⁄3 innings with 22 strikeouts and seven walks. It’s those strikeouts that stand out the most, as Pérez has never really been great at missing bats but he’s doing so at a high clip this year. We’ll see if he can keep it up or if this was just a flash in the pan.
The Red Sox have a tough matchup to start this series, going up against the Phillies ace on Friday. Nola doesn’t always get the credit he deserves as one of the best pitchers in the game, but he’s very much in that conversation. This season he’s arguably been even better than ever, striking out over 10 batters per nine innings while keeping his walk rate just under 1.5 per nine as well. He does just about everything well, and he’s coming off a solid outing against the Blue Jays last time out. The righty will feature a fastball that sits in the low-90s along with a curveball, a changeup and a sinker.
5/22: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Chase Anderson, 7:15 PM ET (FOX)
Eovaldi has been a little inconsistent for the Red Sox this year, particularly over his last few outings. He still hasn’t allowed a home run this season, a run that is entering absurd territory, but he’s also giving up some hits and not missing as many bats as you’d like to see. He’s never been a huge strikeout guy, but he has to miss some bats to avoid balls falling in for hits. Right now he’s on something of an every other start kind of streak, alternating between good and mediocre outings. His last start was in the latter category, allowing four runs over five innings to the Angels, so he’s due for a good one here.
On paper this should be the easiest matchup of the weekend for the Red Sox offense, as they are going up against a righty in Anderson who is struggling this year. He has a 6.96 ERA over eight starts, and he’s really suffering in every area. His strikeout rate is down, he’s walking over four per nine innings, and he’s allowed seven home runs already this season. He’s also coming off the worst start of his season, having just allowed a whopping seven runs to the Blue Jays over only 1 1⁄3 innings. Anderson will feature a low-90s fastball to go with a cutter, a changeup, and a curveball.
5/23: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:05 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-network)
Things have been sputtering for Rodriguez as of late despite good peripherals, as he’s giving up a ton of hits, and as a result a ton of runs. His ERA stands at an even 6.00 in the month of May. We went in-depth on him after his last start, so you can read about some keys here.
Nola is the ace of the staff for this Phillies roster, but Wheeler is a hell of a number two right behind him, and this year more of a 1B. The righty has been electric in 2020, pitching to a 2.52 ERA with peripherals to match. He’s setting down more than a batter per inning while keeping his walk rate below two per nine and keeping the ball in the yard at a high clip to this point in the season. Things have been particularly great over his last three starts, where he’s pitched to a 0.82 ERA over 22 innings with 25 strikeouts and only one walks. Wheeler comes with straight heat, as he throws three pitches (a four-seam, a slider, and a sinker) at least 10 percent of the time this year and they all top 90 mph on average.
Notable Position Players
Bryce Harper is the clear face of this team, and because of some of the hype around him coming into his career it’s been easy to miss at times that he is absolutely an elite hitter. He’s having a big start to this season, drawing a ton of walks and hitting for big power en route to a 157 wRC+.
J.T. Realmuto was brought back this past winter in the biggest deal for the Phillies over the offseason, and he’s rewarding them while continuing to be the best catcher in the game. He plays very good defense behind the dish, and he’s putting up a 144 wRC+ this year. Ho hum.
Andrew McCutchen is having a slight bounce back this year after a disappointing 2020, and his patience in particular has been impressive this season as he’s drawing walks over 16 percent of the time.
Rhys Hoskins is always a scary batter to face as he possess big-time raw power, though you can also get him to swing and miss some as well.
Jean Segura is a throwback type of player, as there hasn’t been a ton of power this year but he’s putting everything into play.
Alec Bohm has been struggling mightily in trying to build off a strong rookie year in 2020. The power hasn’t been there this season, and his plate discipline has suffered as well.
Odúbel Herrera started the season with controversy as many Phillies fans didn’t even want him on the roster, and for good reason after his domestic violence arrest in 2019. He is playing, though, and he’s been getting on base as of late.
Nick Maton hasn’t played a ton this year but he’s ridden a high BABIP to good production when he has gotten in.
Héctor Neris has been holding down the late innings for a Phillies bullpen that is desperate for a good season after last year’s disaster. Neris has done well as the closer, though he’s been a bit susceptible to the long ball.
José Alvarado is a familiar face from Tampa, and he’s the same guy as ever, showing big stuff but also lapses with control.
Sam Coonrod has been the surprise in this bullpen so far, missing a bunch of bats while showing elite control.
Didi Gregorius suffered an elbow injury earlier this week, and while it doesn’t appear serious he won’t be there for this series.
Seranthony Dominguez is rehabbing from Tommy John, and he’s not likely to return until the second half.
Roman Quinn hurt his finger when trying to lay down a bunt early in the month, and it’s still not clear when he’ll return.
Scott Kingery suffered a concussion earlier this week, and his status is still a bit unclear.
Matt Joyce went down with a calf injury at the start of May and his timeline is not clear.
JoJo Romero went on the IL early this month and just recently learned he’ll need Tommy John.
Adam Haseley left the team for undisclosed reasons early in the season, and it’s still not clear if or when he’ll return to the team.
Simon Muzziotti is also on the restricted list, where he’s been since the end of camp.
We’re getting into real baseball weather of late, and this series should be no different as the temperatures look good and the skies look clear all weekend in Philly.