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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Phillies series preview

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The Cubs look to start a new winning streak and increase their division lead.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As always, I turn over this Cubs vs. Phillies series preview to Liz Roscher, managing editor of our SB Nation Phillies site The Good Phight. And as always, Liz is awesome.

Greetings once again, Bleed Cubbie Blue readers. I'm here to bring you word of the Phillies, the latest team the Cubs will face in their season-long journey back to the playoffs.

Well, I'm not going to bring you word of the Phillies just yet. Just one Phillie in particular.

RHYS HOSKINS.

IT IS TIME TO GET LEGITIMATELY EXCITED FOR RHYS HOSKINS.

Well, it's time for me to get legitimately excited for RHYS HOSKINS. I actually have a problem typing his name in normal, lower case letters. I can't stop myself. Every time I type his name, it just appears as RHYS HOSKINS. The guy is doing Trevor Story type things, and I didn't even know that Phillies players were allowed to do that. At this point I figured that a warlock had put a curse on the Phillies and we'd been doomed to more years of mediocrity and failed Dom Brown-esque prospects. But then RHYS HOSKINS came and beat the warlock to death with his bat, and the kingdom was saved. I'll tell that story to my hypothetical children someday.

So let me give you a few stats on RHYS HOSKINS. He's played a total of 15 games, and he's hit eight home runs. Only two other players in baseball history have hit that many home runs in their first 15 games: Carlos Delgado and Trevor Story. And it's even more impressive than you think. Hoskins didn't get his first hit, a single, until his fourth game, and he didn't homer until his fifth game, in which he hit TWO DINGERS. So he's hit those eight home runs in 11 games. GUYS I AM EXCITED.

As much as I'd like to pretend that this team is just RHYS HOSKINS running around and playing all nine positions Bugs Bunny style, there are other non-RHYS HOSKINS guys on the team. I'm going to put them into categories for you.

New faces!

There are a few new faces beyond RHYS HOSKINS. When our fair teams played each other back in May, which might as well be 100 years ago at this point, these guys were still in Triple-A, waiting for a chance. And now they've got it.

Nick Williams - Williams is 11 feet tall, has a jaw made of solid granite, and an enormous smile. He's a right fielder by trade, but he's been filling in for the sadly injured Odubel Herrera in center. And even though he is very decidedly not a center fielder, he's been really consistent at the plate, showing an aptitude for making adjustments when pitchers figure out what he likes. I didn't think Phillies players were allowed to do that anymore.

Jorge Alfaro - Called up to replace the ailing back-up catcher, Alfaro is actually supposed to be the Phillies' starting catcher next year, but you'd never know it since manager Pete Mackanin can't stop putting Cameron Rupp behind the plate. If you see Alfaro once during this series, consider yourselves lucky, because Cameron Rupp is bad and your pitchers will be able to fool him easily.

Guys who probably won't be on the Phillies by April 2018

The Phillies are about to embark on their most consequential offseason in literally years. And that's because they have a fair number of prospect-type players who are being blocked by guys who shouldn't be blocking anyone, ever. They've gotta offload these dudes somewhere, so take a good look and perhaps you'll see one of them in a Cubs uniform next season! (I'm sorry. That was mean.)

Cameron Rupp (C) - He is a "catcher" in that he sits behind the plate and receives pitches. Beyond that, I have nothing good to say about his "catching" "abilities." He's got some power but it comes and goes and every time I see him in the lineup instead of Jorge Alfaro I want to throw a hissy fit.

Tommy Joseph (1B) - He's felt the hot breath of first baseman RHYS HOSKINS on the back of his neck, even though they're making Hoskins play left field. Joseph has broken out for a few homers recently, which I'm hoping will boost his trade value instead of making the front office think they can or should keep him around. Also, he's got an impressive Old Man Face. Look at him during tonight's game. He's only 26, and not related to Karl Malden! It's incredible.

Cesar Hernandez (2B) - He's blocking Scott Kingery, who was promoted to Triple-A a few months ago and is currently sporting an average over .300 and a 20+ game hitting streak. If that makes it seem that he won't be on the Phillies next year, it's because he will not be on the Phillies next year.

Freddy Galvis (SS) - He made his major league debut in 2012, the last time the Phillies had anything close to a winning record. (They went .500 that year and tanked right after.) He's blocking uber-prospect JP Crawford, and as a tribute to Galvis' years of service on crappy Phillies teams, the Phillies are trying to honor his request to start all 162 games this season. Which is nice. He's been in the trenches on some truly horrendously awful Phillies teams, and he deserves something nice.

Pitchers

The Cubs will see the cream of the Phillies crop, and then one other guy. Aaron Nola is the truth, he is the light, he is The Guy in the Phillies rotation. At most the Cubs will see him twice a year in the future, but I hope you come to fear him in a Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay/Cole Hamels kind of way. (Look at me not mentioning the Cole Hamels no-hitter against the Cubs. I deserve a medal.) Jerad Eickhoff, the enemy of consistency, and Ben Lively, who is, uh, a guy, will also be taking the mound.

I haven't hit on everyone, but do you really want to know about everyone? I watch this team every day and I don't even want to know. There's a reliever named Hoby Milner on this team, and if that alone doesn't scream "STAY AWAY" at you, I don't know what to say. Seek help. I know I should.

When our teams last played each other, the Phillies had just finished what would be the most successful two-week period of the entire season. Facing the Cubs in early May started what would be the most painful month of Phillies baseball in recent memory. So thanks, Cubs. That month took at least half a year off my life expectancy.

So in conclusion, to wrap up and finish this preview, I have just this to say: RHYS HOSKINS.

Fun fact (though not much fun for the Phillies)

The Phillies have lost 100 or more games 13 times in franchise history, but the last time that happened was in 1961. Their current winning percentage of .365 puts them on pace for a 103-loss season.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Jose Quintana, LHP (8-10, 4.27 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, 3.99 FIP) vs. Jerad Eickhoff, RHP (3-7, 4.46 ERA, 1.488 WHIP, 4.17 FIP)

Saturday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (4-4, 3.52 ERA, 1.268 WHIP, 4.15 FIP) vs. Ben Lively, RHP (1-4, 3.70 ERA, 1.377 WHIP, 4.39 FIP)

Sunday: John Lackey, RHP (10-9, 4.90 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 5.57 FIP) vs. Aaron Nola, RHP (9-9, 3.58 ERA, 1.209 WHIP, 3.30 FIP)

  • Jose Quintana’s numbers above include his 18 starts with the White Sox. With the Cubs: seven starts, 4-2, 3.73 ERA, 1.098 WHIP, 3.96 FIP

Times & TV channels

Friday: 6:05 p.m. CT, WGN

Saturday: 6:05 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago

Sunday: 12:35 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Prediction

The Phillies have the worst record in the major leagues and have lost 11 of their last 15 and 16 of their last 23.

The Cubs took three of four from the Phillies at Wrigley earlier this year and the starting pitchers from the one game the Phillies won in that series are long gone (Brett Anderson for the Cubs, released; Vince Velasquez for the Phillies, injured and out for the season).

Nevertheless, I don’t like predicting sweeps and the Phillies appear to have the better starting pitcher for Sunday’s game, so I’ll go, as usual, with two of three.

Up next

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field for a three-game series against the Pirates beginning Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Phillies?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    3
    (62 votes)
  • 57%
    2
    (112 votes)
  • 7%
    1
    (14 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (8 votes)
196 votes total Vote Now