Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (20-22) at San Francisco Giants (19-23)

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES NOTES:

GAME #42 RECAP: The Phillies fell to the San Francisco Giants, 4-3, at Oracle Park in San Francisco … Starter Zack Wheeler (L, 3-3) went 6.0 innings and allowed 4 runs on 9 hits with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts … Wheeler generated 51 swings and had 20 whiffs (39%) including 13 whiffs on 27 swings against his four-seam fastball (48%) … Of the Giants’ 9 hits on the night, 6 were hit under 90 MPH including a 66.1 MPH single in the 5th and a 56.0 MPH single in the 6th …. The Phillies went 1-for-11 with RISP.

BULLISH ON THE PEN: Over the last month (since 4/16), the Phillies bullpen has combined to post an MLB-best 2.37 ERA (24 ER, 91.0 IP) in 27 games with 109 strikeouts to 26 walks (4.19 SO/BB ratio) … The bullpen is 10-for-12 in save opportunities in that span … This stretch includes three games at Dodger Stadium from May 1-3 – in those three games, the bullpen allowed 18 ER in 11.1 IP (14.29 ERA) with a blown save … If you subtract those three games from the bullpen’s totals, since April 16, they have a 0.68 ERA (6 ER, 79.2 IP) in 24 games.

RIDING THE SEESAW: Since April 26, the Phillies have played 18 games and are an even .500 at 9-9 … This 18-game stretch consists of a four-game winning streak (4/26-29), a season-long six-game losing streak (4/30-5/6), a season-best five-game winning streak (5/7-13) and an active three-game losing streak (since 5/14) … Per Elias April 26 through May 13 marked only the fourth time in franchise history that the Phillies
bookended a single-season losing streak of six or more games with two single-season winning streak of four or more games … Prior to this season, it last happened in 1991 (7/15-8/12) and before that in 1979 (7/30- 8/10) and 1962 (7/28-8/15) … Additionally, the Phillies lost their first five games this month only to rebound and win their next five to move to 5-5 through their first 10 in May … That marked only the fourth time in franchise history the Phils lost the first five games (or more) in a month only to win their next five in that same month in the same calendar year – others: June of 1969, Sept. of 1911 and June of 1909.

WHAT A RELIEF: Through the first five games of this six-game trip, the Phillies bullpen has not allowed an earned run in 18.1 IP – 7 runs have been scored against them, but none have been earned … The Phillies pen has limited the 70 batters they have faced on this road trip to a .197 AVG and .532 OPS with 22 strikeouts to 2 walks (11.0 SO/BB ratio) … The last time the Phillies bullpen had a road trip of six or more games with 0 earned runs allowed was July 27-August 2, 2012 (11.0 IP).

HARP ON IT: In his first game back from Tommy John Surgery (160 days from the procedure), Bryce Harper went 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts on 5/2 at Dodger Stadium … Since then, he is 15-for-43 at the plate with 12 runs scored, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBI and 6 walks to 12 strikeouts … He is slashing .349/.429/.558 with a .987 OPS in 49 plate appearances in that span (since 5/3) … Saturday night, Harper hit a 2-run 9th inning home run to put the Phils up 7-4 (110.2 MPH/439 feet) … In “Close & Late” situations (7th inning or later with the batting team ahead by one run, tied, or with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck), Harper is 6-for-12 with a 1.333 OPS this season … Since the start of last season (regular and postseason combined), Harper has come to the plate 79 times in close and late situations – he is 22-for-67 with 6 doubles, 6 home runs, 21 RBI and 10 walks to 17 strikeouts (.328/.418/.687) … His 1.104 OPS ranks 1st among 219 players in MLB with at least 75 PA in close and late situations since 2022 (regular and postseason combined).

YOU GOT THAT RIGHT: In 32 plate appearances against right-handers in 2023, Bryce Harper has reached base safely 19 times (.594 OBP) – he is 13-26 at the plate against RHP with five extra-base hits (3 2B, 2 HR) and has more walks (6) than strikeouts (5).

ANGEL IN THE OUTFIELD: Center fielder Brandon Marsh has almost tripled his walk rate from 6.1% last season to 16.2% entering play tonight … His 10.1% jump in walk rate from last year is the largest spike of any player in baseball from 2022 to 2023 and his 16.2% walk rate ranks 6th in the National League and 10th in MLB … Marsh, who has walked in four straight games (since 5/13) and six of his last seven (9 BB, since 5/9) reached 23 walks for the season last night in his 139th plate appearance … Last season, Marsh reached 23 walks on July 30th in his 331st plate appearance (192 plate appearances faster in 2023) … Marsh is slashing .288/.408/.525 with a .934 OPS this year – his 154.9 OPS+ ranks 3rd among National League outfielders, trailing only ATL’s Ronald Acuna Jr. (181.6) and SF’s LaMonte Wade Jr. (161.5) … Per Statcast rankings, Marsh ranks in the 95th percentile in walk rate, 90th percentile in sprint speed (28.7 ft/sc), outs above average (2) & average exit velocity (92.5 MPH), 89th percentile in hard hit rate (50.6%) and 80th percentile in arm strength (89.3 MPH).

CASTY’S BACK, TELL A FRIEND: Phils right fielder Nick Castellanos has gotten ahead 1-0 in 56 plate appearances this season – after taking ball one, Castellanos is slashing .460/.518/.760 with a 1.278 OPS that ranks 5th out of 223 MLB players with at least 40 plate appearances that start 1-0 … He has nine extra-base hits (6 2B, 3 HR) after getting ahead 1-0 … Last season, Castellanos got ahead 1-0 in 174 plate appearances and totaled only 10 extra-base hits as he slashed .197/.276/.299 with a .575 OPS that ranked 201st out of 203 qualified hitters.

ON THE DOORSTEP OF HISTORY: Right-hander Craig Kimbrel has 1,122 career strikeouts which currently ranks 12th all-time among MLB relievers – Kenley Jansen ranks 11th at 1,124 and Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman ranks 10th at 1,133 … Over his last 11 appearances (since 4/16) Kimbrel has struck out 20 of the 39 batters he has faced (51.3%) while walking only three (7.7%) … Kimbrel is two saves away from 400 for his career as he looks to become only the 8th pitcher in MLB history to reach 400.

TODAY’S STARTER – TAIJUAN WALKER • RHP #99
2023: 3-2, 5.97 ERA Career: 57-52, 3.97 ERA

LAST START: 5/12 at COL: ND, 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO … Walker vs Gomber … The Phillies defeated the Colorado Rockies, 6-3, on a blustery night in Denver … Alec Bohm and Kyle Schwarber homered for the Phillies as Bryce Harper’s 300th career double came in the 8th inning when he laced a ball off the right field fence that scored two and put the Phillies up 5-3 … Harper would then steal 3rd and score on a throwing error to make it 6-3 Phils … Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the 9th for his 398th career save.

TODAY’S START:

  • No Free Passes: Walker has not issued a walk in 2 straight starts and has averaged just 13.2 pitches per inning across those starts after averaging more than 18.6 pitches per inning in his first 6 starts of the year. He last went 2 straight games without walking a batter from 9/11-16/22 while with the Mets.
  • Doing the Splits: Walker has used his splitter 35.6% of the time in 2023, by far the highest rate of his career (previous: 27.6% in 2022) … He has thrown it more often than any other pitch (247 times, next: 4-seam, 159 times) and has surrendered just 2 XBH (2B, 3B) on it. Walker threw his splitter for 46 of 85 pitches on 5/7 and 46 of 105 pitches on 4/9, the most he has ever thrown the pitch in a game in his career (previous: 43 times, 6/2/22 & 8/8/16).
  • Finding his Strikeout Stuff: Walker, who had 17 strikeouts in his first 4 starts (5, 5, 4 ,3) has 21 in his last 4, (6, 6, 6, 3).
  • From the Ground Up: Walker’s 51.7% ground ball rate is the 9th- highest among all NL pitchers (min. 30.0 IP).
  • Pick ‘em Off: Walker’s 19 successful pickoff attempts since the start of the 2015 season are tied for the 7th-most among active major league pitchers in that span.
  • vs NL West: 12-11, 3.63 ERA (77 ER, 191.0 IP) in 34 starts.

ROAD:

  • 2023: 2-2, 6.23 ERA (18 ER, 26.0 IP) in 5 starts.
  • Career: 32-31, 4.08 ERA (219 ER, 482.2 IP) in 92 games (90 starts).

2023 SEASON:

  • Made his Phillies debut on 4/3 at NYY after signing a 4-year contract with the club in December.
  • Pitched for Team Mexico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, making 1 start in Pool Play against Great Britain … He threw 4.0 scoreless IP with 2 baserunners allowed and recorded 8 of his 12 outs via strikeout.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS NOTES:

TODAY’S GAME: With wins in the first two games of this series the Giants have secured their fifth series win of the season and seek their first sweep of the season with a win over the Phillies this afternoon at Oracle…SF swept the Phils in a three-game series here last September and has won six straight overall against the Phils here at Oracle Park dating to June 20, 2021… the last time the Giants won seven or more consecutive home games against the Phillies was August 31, 1998-August 3, 2001 when they won 12 straight home games vs. Philadelphia.

DID YOU KNOW?: Yesterday’s win was only the Giants second victory this season where they did not homer…the other victory came May 2 at Houston when they downed the Astros 2-0…the Giants two wins in homerless games this year are tied for 25th of 30 MLB teams with the Yankees, White Sox and A’s…the two teams that have fewer wins without homering this year (one win apiece) are the first place Rays and Braves.

WHY IS A BAKER’S DOZEN 13?: Today’s game ends a stretch of 13 straight games for SF without an off day dating to May 5…they have gone 6-6 in the 12 games thus far…they enjoy an off day tomorrow before starting another 13-game stretch with no days off on Friday vs. Miami that runs through the end of the month.

HOME SWEET HOME: SF has been much better at home with an 12-10 record at Oracle Park this season compared to a 7-13 record on the road…the winning home record is due to the fact that the Giants have won 10 of their last 14 contests on the shores of McCovey Cove dating to April 22…during this stretch of solid home play the Giants have averaged 4.4 runs per game and have homered in all but two of the 14 games…in its first eight home games, SF was 2-6 and averaged 3.0 runs per game.

FIELD OF DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES: SF has played well against the Phillies at Oracle Park in recent years…Stats, LLC notes that since 2014, SF’s 22-6 (.786) record at home vs. Philadelphia is tied for the fourth-best mark in MLB against a single opponent at home (min. 15 games)…with last night’s win giving SF the series victory, the Giants have won or split their last nine home series against PHI (Stats, LLC).

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