The Phils are ready to spend Memorial Day Weekend at Wrigley Field, returning to National League play after a three game series in Detroit earlier in the week. The Phillies were able to salvage the final game on Wednesday afternoon 8-5 as we saw a mixed bag of Phillies performances during the series.
Monday: Phils lose 5-4 – The Phillies probably scored enough to win the game with Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph going deep, but it was the pitching that faltered. Vince Velasquez only managed to go 4+ and Colton Murray who hasn’t given up a run before this appearance Monday, gave up two solo bombs in 3 innings of relief.
Tuesday: Phils lose 3-1 – The Phillies got a quality start from Jeremy Hellickson – going 7 innings, allowing 3 ERs, and striking out 7. The Phils only mustard 3 hits on a very hittable Justin Verlander, who had an ERA of 4.58 coming into the game. Verlander went 8 strong, striking out 10. The bats lost this one to a tough pitcher.
Wednesday: Phils win 8-5 – The Phillies were able to put up their second highest run total of the year. They tagged Anibal Sanchez for 8 hits in 6 innings and finished the game with 12 hits. Aaron Nola pitched a decent game going 6 and giving up 4 runs while the door was closed by the combo of Hernandez, Neris, and Gomez.
A few years ago was the first time Major League Baseball implemented a schedule that included more interleague play at random points in the season. It used to be just one stretch of play that spanned from late June to early July. In my piece last week, I included this Tigers series in the Phillies test in late May and early June, even though they were under .500 at the time I wrote it. And as you saw, the Phils had some tough times. As I briefly dissected the three game series above, there were both positives and negatives when assessing how the Phillies played.
This led me to ask myself how the Phillies would fare if they were an American League team. Would the pitching be as strong as it has been this season when facing an extra hitter in the AL? For Aaron Nola, would we see the 2.85 ERA pitcher we’re accustomed to seeing (his ERA entering Wednesday) or the OK start he had Wednesday. Which Velasquez are we seeing – the strikeout pitcher against San Diego and Miami or the pitcher Monday night who couldn’t record an out in the 5th? Would the back end of the bullpen (Hernandez, Neris, and Gomez) have the success they are seeing now?
Furthermore, would the Phillies offense be as anemic as it is now with the DH? One thing is for sure – we’d be seeing a lot more of Tommy Joseph. There’s certainly more tweaking Pete Makanin can do with an AL lineup, plus there’d be fewer double switches. Does Makanin continue to bat Howard 4th or would he give the honors to Joseph? Could Carlos Ruiz have even fresher legs to be a productive everyday DH? The one player that always seems to slip through the cracks is Andres Blanco. He is a jack of all trades – you may have heard Tom McCarthy mention last weekend that he’s even the emergency catcher! Is he good in the role he’s in now or would getting more ABs hurt him?
These are all things that could change the dynamic of the team and thought it’d be fun to think about. You never know, the talk of the designated hitter always pops up in the NL.
Knowing what we know about the team at this very moment, how do you think they would do? Let’s say the Phillies and Yankees switched spots in their respective divisions. Now the Phils would be in the AL East and has Boston, Tampa, Baltimore, and Toronto in their division. Below, is the Yankees schedule to this point.
HOU, @Det, @Tor, SEA, OAK, TB, @Tex, @Bos, @Bal, BOS, KC, CHW, @Ari, @Oak, TOR
Keep in mind the Phillies are 26-21 right now.