October 2, 2023

Series Preview: Phillies at Mariners, May 9 – 11



Another series, and another loss to the New York Mets. The Phillies were set up perfectly to win the four-game set that turned into three games, but they blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning of game one to put themselves in the history books for all the wrong reasons. Now, the Phillies have to rebound in Seattle before they drop too far behind in the NL East. Right now, the Phightins are at fourth place in their division with a 12-16 record. This puts them seven games behind the Mets.

The Mariners did not go on a shopping spree after the lockout by any means, but a trade with the Reds on March 14 sent the Mariners Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker. Suarez is not as big of a name as he used to be, but the Mariners were desperate to fill the third base spot after Kyle Seager announced his retirement after the 2021 season. Winker has struggled to begin 2022, but he will surely get himself back on track. He is a career .281 hitter with an .866 OPS. This is his sixth season in the major, and it is clear that he knows how to adjust to end a slump.

Even though the trade was important, the Mariners’ biggest addition could have come fresh out of their farm system. Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez—both young outfielders—have been starting every day since being called up from Tacoma Rainiers. Kelenic spent about half of the 2021 season in the big leagues, yet he was not overly impressive. He hit just .181 with the Mariners in 2021, and he is hitting only .152 in his 2022 campaign so far. Rodriguez has been better, but his strikeout numbers are very concerning. He has 37 strikeouts in 102 at-bats so far, and Mariners fans are not thrilled. He is only twenty-one years old, so the strikeouts will decrease with experience, but it is still a burden to a Mariners team that is contending for a playoff spot.

The Mariners are coming into this series with a 13-16 record.

A shorthanded staff

Coming into this series, all-star Zack Wheeler is on the COVID IL, and there is no timetable for his return. Veteran shortstop Didi Gregorius is also on the shelf with a knee sprain. Gregorius has lost nearly all of his power, but he has hit for a high average in 2022 thus far. The water surrounding the Phillies’ pitching fiasco gets is even muddier, as Zach Eflin has also been placed on the COVID list. The Phillies’ will start Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, but there is no starter set in stone for Wednesday’s day game. A bullpen game is a possibility, but a pitcher from the minor leagues who is already stretched out could also be considered.

It is also important to remember that Bryce Harper can only DH for right now. He says that his arm is still sore, and he is glad to have the DH as an alternative to going on the injured list. The most recent reports state that he has been throwing every day, but it is unknown whether that is still a daily occurrence.

A tough matchup

While the Phillies are in need of starters, the Mariners have an abundance of them. The Phillies will face Chris Flexen, Robbie Ray, and Logan Gilbert. Flexen is coming into his start with a 3.10 ERA, Ray was one of the Cy Young winners in 2021, and Gilbert is 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA to start the season. Robbie Ray has not found his Cy Young form yet, but there is no doubt that he will find it eventually; and when he does, he won’t be stoppable.

The Phillies will face three excellent starting pitchers, so they will have to capitalize when the Mariners execute a pitch poorly. Wasted pitches have been a problem all season for the Phillies, and they will quickly realize how much of a negative impact this holds if it continues in this series.

Can the top of the lineup stay hot?

In game one of this series, the top four spots in the Phillies’ lineup will consist of Kyle Schwarber, Alec Bohm, Bryce Harper, and Nick Castellanos. In the shadows, these four players have been some of the better starters over the last few games. Alec Bohm and Kyle Schwarber are both hitting .321 in their last seven games, and Bryce Harper went yard off of future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer on Sunday. Castellanos has hit well all season, as his average sits at .292 with an OPS above .800.

While all of this is great, it is going to take more than four players for the Phillies to be successful in this series. Jean Segura will also have to stay hot, and the Phillies will have to balance their aggression with their selectiveness.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Ranger Suarez (LHP, 2-1, 4.63 ERA) vs. Chris Flexen (RHP, 1-4, 3.1 ERA)

Game 2: Aaron Nola (RHP, 1-3, 3.38 ERA) vs. Robbie Ray (LHP, 2-3, 4.38 ERA)

Game 3: TBD vs Logan Gilbert (RHP, 4-0, 1.36 ERA)

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 0
  • Mariners: 1
  • Runs Scored Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.36
  • Mariners: 4.07
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.36
  • Mariners: 4.03

Game times and broadcasts

  • Monday, May 9, at 9:40pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Tuesday, May 10, at 9:40pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Wednesday, May 11, at 3:40pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, MLB Network, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP

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