June 7, 2023

The Wild Card chase—Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals, July 8 – 11


Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

After a successful homestand, the Phillies are on the road again. They will begin a four-game series in St. Louis Friday night as aces Adam Wainwright and Zack Wheeler will face off at Busch Stadium.

The Phillies are red-hot. They just took two of three from the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The top of the lineup has produced a lot of big hits, and the bullpen has been better than ever.

The Cardinals are a different story. They have lost six of their last eight and nine of their last fourteen. They are still without one of their starting outfielders and their hall-of-fame-bound catcher. Tyler O’Neill is expected to return to the Cardinals lineup at some point in this series after being sidelined by a hamstring injury, and Genesis Cabrera is expected to return to the bullpen, too.

Last time they met

The Redbirds were in Philly last weekend, marking the first series the Phillies played without Bryce Harper. The Cardinals struggled offensively, but the Phillies were consistent throughout the entire series. They did not have one game where they blew the opposition out, but they did not lack production at the plate. The Cards failed to score against Zack Wheeler in game three. Ironically, this came just one day after hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs off Kyle Gibson. The Phillies made an impressive five-run comeback in that game, but the Cardinals came out on top.

Since then, the Cardinals have not been great—they lost three of four in Atlanta. Dakota Hudson and Andre Pallante had uncharacteristic starts, given how good they have been in 2022. A great outing from Miles Mikolas was wasted, but the Cardinals were able to sneak an extra-inning win out of Atlanta in game four.

Fresh arms

The Phillies bullpen was at its best this past series in Philadelphia, but they were also used very often. They threw four innings on Tuesday, 1.1 innings on Wednesday, and five innings on Thursday. Luckily for the Phillies, we could see a few relievers return from the injured list in the coming days.

Right now, Jojo Romero and Connor Brogdon are the farthest along in their rehab assignments. Romero had Tommy John Surgery last year, and Brogdon was put on the COVID-related IL on June 25. There have also been some rumors that Kent Emmanuel could get a spot start in the near future. Emmanuel had a 2.55 ERA with the Astros in 2021 and was claimed off waivers by the Phillies this past November.

The Phillies also recalled Michael Kelly from triple-A in correspondence to Bailey Falter’s return to Lehigh Valley following Thursday’s game.

Keep the sluggers quiet

When the Phillies and Cardinals met last weekend, Cardinals’ third baseman Nolan Arenado was unstoppable. Literally.

Arenado recorded three RBI and hit for the cycle in game one, and he followed that by hitting the first of four consecutive home runs in the first inning of game two.

Fans thought that he had to be out of gas, but he wasn’t.

Arenado led off the ninth inning by pulling a go-ahead two-run home run off Phils’ reliever Seranthony Dominguez. Arenado had also had one of the Cardinals’ four hits in game three. Both of Arenado’s game-two homers were off of sliders, so it might be best for Phillies pitchers to challenge him with fastballs up in the zone and make sure that any breaking balls are far, far away from his powerful bat.

Unfortunately, he is not the only one we have to worry about. In the other corner of the infield, Paul Goldschmidt has been just as good. The MVP frontrunner has a .342 average and a 1.046 OPS coming into the game on Friday. He is one home run shy of 20 and has already batted 65 runners in through 85 games played as a team.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Zack Wheeler (RHP, 7-4, 2.66 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (RHP, 6-6, 3.26 ERA)

Game 2: Kyle Gibson (RHP, 4-3, 4.91 ERA) vs. Dakota Hudson (RHP, 6-5, 4.29 ERA)

Game 3: Christopher Sanchez (LHP, 1-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. Andre Pallante (RHP, 2-4, 3.03 ERA)

Game 4: Aaron Nola (RHP, 5-6, 3.15 ERA) vs. Miles Mikolas (RHP, 5-7, 2.72 ERA)

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 57
  • Cardinals: 54
  • Runs Scored Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.86
  • Cardinals: 4.59
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.17
  • Cardinals: 3.95

Game times and broadcasts

  • Friday, July 8, at 8:15pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Saturday, July 9, at 2:15pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Sunday, July 10, at 2:15pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Monday, July 11, at 7:15pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP

Game coverage will be available on Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter page.

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