Well it’s official, the Marlins ruin absolutely everything! First they decide to play spoilers on the opening series of the season taking two of three from the Phillies, and then of course the majority of the team comes down with COVID-19. A night out on the town in Atlanta right before opening day, smart move fish, smart move. The league got thrown into such a whirlwind that rumors started to pop up about shutting it down all together. But fear not my fellow Phanatic’s, baseball will continue to be played in this town. The rest of the league continued on during the chaos so the Phillies will have some catching up to do. 57 games in 56 days to be exact, yikes! But that just means every day is full of baseball for the next two months. Can I get an Amen??? No? Oh I know why, the next two series are against the two Eastern division champs from a year ago, the Yanks and Braves. Not much happened to the Phillies during there short sideline stint, and luckily no one (so far) caught the bug. So let’s take a look at a few of the highlights of the week to come in Phillies baseball.
- Jake is on the bump
Jake Arrieta will be making his season debut against the mighty Yankees lineup. We could throw a bunch of career numbers out at ya with how he has faired against the bombers but why? This season is not only anew, it’s as unique as they come. Arrieta is also going up a against one of the most feared lineups in the league in his first official start of his year. Top that off with the fact he is opposed by Gerrit Cole, who is pitching like the ace the Yankees bought this offseason. Optimism isn’t high for Monday nights game, but then again I think most were pretty optimistic this team could at least win there opening series against the Marlins. Look where that “glass half full” mindset got all of us huh?
- First look at the Braves
As amazing as it sounds, the Phillies actually has a winning record against the Braves in 2019 (10-9). We all remember the opening day, lead off home run from McCutchen against them last year and what hopes and dreams it brought us for the outcome of the season. Sadly that dream stayed a dreame as the Braves claimed the NL East. But it was clear that the Phillies last season were capable of contending against the division champs and this week we will get a first hand look to see if last year wasn’t just a fluke. The good news, Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman have gotten off to slower starts. Bad news, Mike Soroka and Max Fried look like a binaries 1-2 punch at the top of the Braves rotation, and new Bravo Marcel Ozuna has gotten off to a hot start on the year. This team has plenty of talent, and the Phillies will have to bring there A game in order to dethrone the defending beast of the East.
- Girardi’s adjustments
From what we saw in the opening series, manager Joe Girardi is going to find ways to get different players in games and play hot hands and matchups. We saw it work out well with Phil Gosselin playing in game two of the season and looking like a middle of the order hitter. We also saw a bullpen who doesn’t seem up to par with the competition they pitch against. Is it an ability issue? Could Girardi be putting these guys in better situations to succeed? So far it’s probably safer to believe the former, but with Girardi’s return to the Bronx this week, his decisions will be even more heavily scrutinized if they don’t pan out. We all know how good of a skipper he is, and these are the moments where good managers adjustments can make or break a series against tough opponents back to back.
So this wasn’t the kind of article packed with info and insight into the upcoming series. The Phillies season is younger than the rest of the league, and one series does not a season make. But a 1-2 start wasn’t ideal to begin the year. This shortened campaign brings added pressure to get into a groove. There is no better time than to do than now against two of the best teams that baseball has to offer. It’s time for the Phillies to make a statement if they wanna be taken seriously going forward. Hopefully that statement can be made Monday night against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. It’s time to get back to work!