The Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi in early June when they were 22-29 and 12½ games out of first place in the NL East.
They immediately ran off eight wins in a row under interim manager Rob Thomson (they’d won their last game under Girardi).
Cause and effect? Probably not, but sometimes a new voice in the clubhouse helps. For more on the Phillies, here’s Ethan Witte, who runs our SB Nation Phillies site The Good Phight.
The Phillies come out of the All-Star break with a slim lead for the final playoff spot. Miraculous, really, when one considers they’ve been without Bryce Harper for about a month, Jean Segura for a while longer and Zach Eflin having had knee issues for a few weeks.
How are they doing it? Would you believe me if I told you their bullpen has actually been really good lately? After the horror shows of the past two seasons, this year’s iteration has actually had some standout performances that have solidified the pitching staff into one of the better ones overall in the game. The offense has gotten by with superhuman performances from Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins, but they’ll need others like Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto to keep pace with the rest of the wild card challengers.
Facing the Cubs, they’ll have a chance to begin the unofficial second half on solid footing, but they need to be careful not to overlook them and think about their next series against the Braves. They need to take this series.
Not so fun for the Cubs as they have lost five of the last six games they have played in Citizens Bank Park, three in 2019 (the teams didn’t meet in 2020) and two of three last year. In the only win among those six games, Patrick Wisdom and Alfonso Rivas homered off Friday’s starter, Kyle Gibson, September 14, 2021.
Friday: Justin Steele, LHP (3-6, 4.15 ERA, 1.409 WHIP, 3.40 FIP) vs. Kyle Gibson, RHP (5-3, 4.35 ERA, 1.202 WHIP, 4.19 FIP)
Saturday: Marcus Stroman, RHP (2-5, 4.69 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, 3.85 FIP) vs. Zack Wheeler, RHP (8-5, 2.89 ERA, 1.084 WHIP, 2.70 FIP)
Sunday: Drew Smyly, LHP (2-5, 4.22 ERA, 1.347 WHIP, 4.77 FIP) vs. TBD
Times & TV channels
Friday: 6:05 p.m. CT, Apple TV+ (how to watch)
Saturday: 5:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Sunday: 11:05 a.m. CT, Peacock
These pitching matchups aren’t terrible for the Cubs as both Steele and Stroman pitched well before the break. Going to say the Cubs won’t get swept here, but asking for more than one win out of the three games is probably too much.
The Cubs return home for a two-game series (and homestand) against the Pirates beginning Monday evening.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Phillies?
This poll is closed