October 2, 2023

A giant series—Series Preview: Phillies at Giants, September 2 – 4


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Injuries, inconsistencies, and general inconveniences haven’t made it easy, but the Phillies have continued to push themselves into good positions to be successful against their opponents south of .500. But in this series against the 61-68 Giants, there is an added sense of pressure—Giants manager, Gabe Kapler.

Despite an unexpectedly successful season at the beginning of his tenure in San Francisco, it would take a few miracles for the Giants to get back into the 2022 Wild Card race. They are 10.5 games behind their intrastate rival in San Diego for the third Wild Card position. The Phillies—the holders of the second Wild Card spot—will look to widen the gap between themselves and the Giants in this three-game set between the two teams beginning out West on Friday night.

Last time they met

The Giants were still in contention when they came to South Philadelphia at the end of May, and they even took the first two games in Philadelphia, pushing the Phillies a season-high eight games under .500. In the third and final game of the series, the Phillies managed to squeak out a series-salvaging victory in Joe Girardi’s final game as the Phillies’ manager thanks to a four-run sixth inning where Nick Maton and Kyle Schwarber each left the yard.

But offensive slumps and bullpen woes at the beginning of the season forced their front office to sell some of their pieces before the trade deadline.

And it has not gone particularly well since.

As the Phillies enter San Francisco, the Giants are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Alex Wood, a former all-star, lost his twelfth game of the season on Wednesday and bumped his ERA up over five.

Meanwhile, the sluggers expected to lead the Giants’ offense have struggled this entire season. Mike Yastrzemski is hitting just .203, and shortstop Brandon Crawford is hitting .226. Tommy La Stella, another former all-star, has put up a career-worst .638 OPS in his 178 at-bats this season.

A few reunions

There weren’t many positions up for grabs entering the season, but the Phillies’ backup catcher was one of them. Austin Wynns and Donny Sands were two of the main contenders, but Garrett Stubbs’ defense and experience got him the job.

Now, all three have found themselves on a major-league roster.

Wynns was signed by the Giants after being let go by Philadelphia, and he has now taken over as the primary catcher with Joey Bart on the injured list. Knapp, the Phillies’ switch-hitting backup catcher from 2017 to 2021, was signed by the Giants last week to back up Wynns.

Sands was recalled by the Phillies when the rosters expanded from 26 to 28 on September first. Sands hit .308 with Lehigh Valley and sported an OPS of .841 in 201 at-bats.

The biggest reunion, though, will be Gabe Kapler facing his former team for the second time this season. Kapler had a 161-163 record in two seasons as the Phillies’ manager. His managerial record improved to 268-218 after a 107-win season and a division title in 2021.

Bounce back

So far this week, we have seen two very different teams put on Phillies uniforms. Between the final game in the Pittsburgh series and the first two contests in Arizona, the Phillies were outscored 30-10.

The ten runs scored could be worse, but 30 runs allowed in just three games sets off alarms. The pitchers struggled to command their fastballs, and the defense was no help.

But this series, the bullpen is rested from Thursday’s off day, and Rob Thomson only had to go one reliever in the third game in the D-Backs series. With an inconsistent starter in Kyle Gibson getting the ball in game one, a well-rested bullpen will keep the Phillies in it until the end.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Kyle Gibson (RHP, 9-5, 4.08 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (RHP, 4-6, 3.81 ERA)

Game 2: Noah Syndergaard (RHP, 8-9, 3.98 ERA) vs. Jakob Junis (RHP, 4-4, 4.04 ERA)

Game 3: Ranger Suarez (LHP, 8-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Carlos Rodon (LHP, 12-7, 3.03 ERA)

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 80
  • Giants: -5
  • Runs Scored Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.74
  • Giants: 4.4
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.13
  • Giants: 4.44

Game times and broadcasts

  • Friday, September 2, at 10:15pm ET on Apple TV Plus, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Saturday, September 3, at 4:05pm ET on MLB Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Sunday, September 4, at 4:05pm 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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