December 2, 2023

Cheering for .235—Series Preview: Royals at Phillies, August 4 – 6


Hunter Martin/Getty Images

As Trea Turner continues to scuffle, the Phillies are finally back at home after a commanding series win over the Miami Marlins and their revamped lineup, which included a healthy Jazz Chisholm, Jr. as well as trade deadline acquisitions Josh Bell and Jake Burger. Now, resting at nine games over .500, the Phillies begin the easiest stretch of their season. Over the next 10 days, the Phils’ opponents have a .416 average winning percentage, and all three of their opponents became worse or made no changes before the August 1 trade deadline.

Looking for their offense to finally explode, the Phillies will begin this 10-day stretch with a three-game set against the red-hot, yet last-place, 35-win Kansas City Royals.

I know. Nobody, and I mean nobody, expected “red-hot” and “Royals” to be in the same sentence at any point in the year 2023. Nonetheless, it happened. Despite Aroldis Chapman, Scott Barlow, Ryan Yarbrough, and Nicky Lopez being traded, Matt Quatraro’s Royals have won six straight games after completing a sweep of the Minnesota Twins and the once-bank-breaking New York Mets.

Here are two storylines ahead of the Phillies-Royals series:

Phillies Fans Rally Behind Scuffling Shortstop

In early 2022, audible boos could be heard permeating through the stands at Citizens Bank Park. Why? Because Alec Bohm had made his third error of the night at third base. As Bohm picked up the ball to toss it back to the pitcher, Bohm mouthed “I [explicit] hate this place” to then-Phillies’-shortstop Didi Gregorius. He did not mean it. He was frustrated. But the cameras got every word.

Right after the game, Bohm was interviewed and used his air time as an opportunity to apologize to the fans for his remark. The next day, Bohm received a standing ovation in his first at-bat, and thanks to the support of the Phillies fans, Bohm went on a tear and solidified a spot in the lineup after coming into the season as a platoon player.

Now, over a year later, Phillies fans on social media think Trea Turner needs the same support. The Phillies’ $300 million shortstop has a .658 OPS in 446 at-bats with the Phillies. In his last 15 games, Turner is batting .150 and has a weak .250 slugging percentage. He has already tied his career high in errors, 13, and still has two more months of regular season baseball at shortstop.

On Wednesday, Turner booted a ground ball that would have ended the game if it had not squirmed into the outfield. Instead, the Phillies went on to lose on a walk-off single in the twelfth inning. Turner also went 0-5. After the game, he took full responsibility for the loss, and fans are empathizing with his struggles.

According to a poll published on Twitter/X by the 94.1 WIP Morning Show, 73% of fans would give Turner a standing ovation in his first at-bat.

The Royals Pitching is… Yikes

Quickly glancing over the Royals’ lineup, you would not expect them to have the second-worst record in all of Major League Baseball. Maikel Garcia, the Royals’ leadoff hitter, flirted with a .300 average in the middle of July, and Bobby Witt, Jr., who is one long ball away from posting a twenty home run/thirty stolen base season, is slotted in the two-hole. Salvador Perez has blasted 17 home runs for the Royals in 2023, and catcher Freddy Fermin has a .296 average in 135 at-bats.

Obviously, they have holes—like their three-hole hitter who has a .633 OPS—but not the type of holes that cause a measly .318 winning percentage.

So why have the Royals struggled this immensely? Well, the answer is simple. Just like how pitching can win teams a World Series, it can also make you one of the worst teams in all of baseball. The Royals’ current rotation—Zack Greinke, Brady Singer, Jordan Lyles, Cole Ragans, and Alec Marsh—has a combined ERA of 5.49 and a record of 13-39. Clearly, having Daniel Lynch IV, Brad Keller, and Kris Bubic on the shelf has done this team no favors.

However, they could end up doing a favor for the Phillies.

It’s no secret that their stars are underperforming. J.T. Realmuto’s .767 OPS is the lowest it’s been since 2015. Kyle Schwarber is well under the Mendoza line. Bryce Harper has five home runs in nearly 300 at-bats. Nick Castellanos had a .497 OPS in July. And not only has Trea Turner hit .235, but he also cannot field a ground ball.

Even though many of these struggles have seemed endless, if these stars are going to get back on track, now is the time. Jordan Lyles and Alec Marsh, who have the worst ERAs of the Royals’ aforementioned starters, will pitch on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, veteran Zack Greinke will be looking for his second win of the season… in his twenty-second start.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, August 4, at 7:05pm ET on MLB Network, NBC 10, WTTM 1680 (Spanish), and 94.1 WIP
  • Saturday, August 5, at 6:05pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680 (Spanish), and 94.1 WIP
  • Sunday, August 6, at 6:05pm ET on MLB Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680 (Spanish), and 94.1 WIP

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Aaron Nola (RHP, 9-7, 4.43 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (RHP, 2-12, 6.15 ERA)

Game 2: Christopher Sanchez (LHP, 0-3, 2.66 ERA) vs. Alec Marsh (RHP, 0-5, 6.75 ERA)

Game 3: Taijuan Walker (RHP, 12-4, 3.99 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (RHP, 1-11, 5.32 ERA)

By the Numbers

  • Run Differential
  • Phillies: 13
  • Royals: -157
  • Runs Scored Per Game
  • Phillies: 4.49
  • Royals: 3.85
  • Runs Allowed Per Game
  • Phillies: 4.37
  • Royals: 5.27

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

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: