September 21, 2023

Series Preview: July 12 – 13, Phillies at Blue Jays—Meet the Ironpigs


Brad Mills/USA TODAY

The shorthanded Phillies are heading to Toronto! Well, it doesn’t look like all of them are going to be Phillies, but I will get into that later. The Coronavirus seems to love getting in the way of the Phillies’ plans…

It became clear after the series in St. Louis that the Phillies’ offense is not the same without Bryce Harper. And because of this, when they are struggling, they are struggling badly. The Phillies scored just seven runs during their four games in St. Louis, and Alec Bohm drove in three of them.

Luckily for the Phillies, they aren’t the only ones scuffling. The Blue Jays, who have been struggling for longer, have lost four straight games and have only won one of their last 10. The Jays’ offense has performed well below par, and their pitching has not been great either. Five of the pitchers on their depth chart are on the injured list, including Cy Young runner-up Hyun-Jin Ryu and top prospect Nate Pearson. Ross Stripling, Kevin Gausman, and Alek Manoah have done well, but their lack of rotational depth continues to hurt them.

Their bullpen has the depth, but they do not have any relievers capable of being a lockdown setup man in the back of the bullpen. The Blue Jays are expected to rent some relievers right before the trade deadline, so we could be meeting them at just the right time.

Vaccine mandate

Canada still requires COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone who wishes to cross Canada’s border. Because of this, J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm, Kyle Gibson, and Aaron Nola were placed on the restricted list Tuesday afternoon. Bailey Falter has minor league options, so he was sent to Lehigh Valley last week. Besides those five, everyone else should be available. Dave Dombrowski said that some other unvaccinated players do not have to be put on the restricted list because they were already sent to triple-A or were already on the IL, to begin with.

“I’m a healthy 31-year-old professional athlete, and I just didn’t feel I needed to get [COVID vaccine]… I talked with doctors I knew and I told them my story and decided I didn’t think I needed it… What’s money when I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body? For a little bit of money, it’s not worth it,” Realmuto told the media.

As you might expect, Realmuto referring to over a quarter of a million dollars as “a little bit of money” infuriated many Phillies fans.

Michael Kelly joined the team in St. Louis, and it was made public Monday morning that Rafael Marchan would replace J.T. Realmuto until the Phils leave Canada. This afternoon, Nick Duron was also recalled. Duron had a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings with Lehigh Valley. Duron has a fastball in the high nineties and features a plus cutter used to generate swings and misses.

Bohm’s injury

Nobody wants to see a player get injured, but Alec Bohm might have picked the perfect time. The all-star break is less than a week away, and Bohm is already ineligible for the next two games. And the best part about the whole thing is that the injury is a lot less severe than it looked.

In the second inning on Monday, Alec Bohm tried to stretch a single into a double. Not only was he out, but he also dislocated his finger. That might not sound like the best news, but it could be the best-case scenario. He mouthed “Broken” to Phillies’ first base coach Paco Figueroa immediately after the play.

He was not placed on the IL, so we could see Bohm return before the all-star break, which would be a nice break for what seems like an unlucky team.

Relying on the ‘pen

A combination of injuries and COVID restrictions forced Rob Thomson and the Phillies to do another bullpen game, which have not gone particularly well for the Phillies since they became popular in the 2010s. Although they have been and always will be a challenge, the 2022 Phillies’ bullpen has shaped up to be one of the best in baseball.

But this will be their ultimate test.

The Blue Jays have a deep lineup that features power hitters along with contact hitters. They will have four players rostered on the AL All-Star team next week, one of them being star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Junior. Guerrero has a .829 OPS in 327 at-bats in 2022. This follows a 2021 season where he fell just short of Shohei Ohtani in the AL MVP voting.

The Phillies might also choose to shy away from using left-handed relievers Brad Hand and Jose Alvarado, given that all nine of the Blue Jays’ starters are right-handed hitters.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Andrew Bellatti (RHP, 1-3, 3.14 ERA) vs. Jose Berrios (RHP, 6-4, 5.44 ERA)

Game 2: Zack Wheeler (RHP, 8-4, 2.46 ERA) vs. TBD

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 54
  • Blue Jays: 9
  • Runs Scored Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.71
  • Blue Jays: 4.56
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.09
  • Blue Jays: 4,46

Game times and broadcasts

  • Tuesday, July 12, at 7:07pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Wednesday, July 13, at 7:07pm ET on MLB Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP

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

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