PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies were riding high last week after a quick two-game home sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays and were heading out west for a six-game trip to face the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants.
The first two games went the Phillies’ way. They won against the Rockies last Friday and Saturday, 6-3 and 7-4 collectively, giving them a five-game winning streak. Things were looking up for the Phillies. Then they dropped the final game of the Rockies’ series 4-0 with Aaron Nola on the mound—the offense couldn’t get anything done against Kyle Freeland, Jake Bird, or Justin Lawrence before heading to San Francisco and dropping all three games to the Giants.
Now, they’re back at home and playing the Chicago Cubs. Will being back at home help the Phillies? Connor Thomas of Locked On Phillies seems to think so.
These next six games at home are no easy task. The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming to town after they face the Cubs. While the Cubs are one game worse record-wise than the Phillies right now at 19-24, the Diamondbacks are a surprising 25-19. However, Thomas thinks the Phillies just need to be at home to get things going in the right direction.
Thomas said the Phillies need to win the first two against the Cubs because of the pitching matchups. You have Ranger Sáurez facing off against Marcus Stroman in Friday’s game and Aaron Nola against Jameson Taillon in Saturday’s game. But on Sunday, the Phillies don’t have a starter listed because normally that would be Bailey Falter’s spot, but he was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier this week. Thomas explained that you can’t be depending on winning a game like Sunday’s especially when you don’t know who is starting or whether or not the Phillies will opt for a bullpen game.
Then looking ahead to the series against Arizona, Thomas isn’t too worried about Zack Wheeler, who is starting the first game, but he is worried about Taijuan Walker, who has had a rough 2023. On Thursday, Walker didn’t even make it out of the first inning against the Giants. He gave up four runs on four hits, walked two, struck out one, and only got two outs before Rob Thomson removed him from the game.
“The guy is getting into Bailey Falter territory, and Bailey Falter was just optioned to Triple-A,” Thomas said.
Walker isn’t going anywhere. The Phillies signed him to a big deal in the offseason after having a solid 2022 with the Mets, and they’re going to have to stick with him in the rotation. Thomas explained, “He’s got to figure it out because his starting pitching has been too inconsistent. He was brought in to be a four and a high level four behind Ranger Sáurez, Zack Wheeler, and Aaron Nola, and his responsibilities went up when Sáurez went down with his forearm strain.”
Walker is 3-2 with a 6.53 ERA in nine starts. Then in the third game of the series, the Phillies will be up against Zac Gallen, who is having a tremendous year for Arizona and is 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA in nine starts.
The Phillies have been a streaky team in 2023, and after this homestead, it doesn’t get any easier as they head to Atlanta to face the Braves for four and New York to face the Mets for three.
So what's the key to breaking out of this slide? It's simple. Winning.
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