2017 Series Preview

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (24-51) at Seattle Mariners (38-38), June 27-28

Remember in “Armageddon” when Owen Wilson asked Billy Bob Thornton what the conditions on the asteroid would be? And Billy Bob went on a little diatribe about scorching heat in the sun, terribly dangerous temperatures in the cold, unforgiving terrain with unpredictable earthquakes?

“OK, so, the scariest environment imaginable, thanks, that’s all you had to say, scariest environment imaginable,” replied Wilson.

That’s the Phillies right now. They’re the scariest baseball environment imaginable.

WHAT TO EXPECT

More of the same until we see otherwise over enough of a sustained period that we can start believing things could be headed in the right direction. It’s going to be a nearly complete lack of any offense sprinkled with starting pitching that will be streaky at best, followed up by a bullpen that has as much talent as the rejection line from the last season of “American Idol.”

Mix in some continued questionable in-game decision-making on the bench and a front office, whether right or wrong, that doesn’t want to do anything to change the immediate trajectory of the team. Yup, Philadelphia is the land of the Scariest Baseball Environment Imaginable.

That SBEI takes its show on the road to a second west coast stop this week for a series with the average Seattle Mariners, which swept a two-game series in Philly in May. The first loss was one of many gut-punches in the Phillies’ 2017 season, when they had a 4-0 lead after the first, a 9-5 lead after the fourth, then gave up a ninth-inning, two-out run to lose to the Mariners, 10-9.

That marked the ninth loss in 11 games following a six-game win streak, and we thought that could be rock bottom.

How wrong we were.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Tuesday, 10:10 p.m.: Aaron Nola (4-5, 4.32 ERA) vs. James Paxton (5-2, 3.39)

We keep seeing games that look like they could be good matchups for the Phils, and this is one of them. Nola has thrown well lately, and Paxton has been awful, going 0-2 with a 9.36 ERA in his last three starts. But we all know what’s happened in most of those games that look at least somewhat promising on paper. Still, one of the many Phillies who needs to show he belongs in the rebuilding plans is Nola, who has been erratic at best since returning from the disabled list. He gave up just four hits and a run in 7.1 innings last week against the Cardinals, and would be well-served to throw a gem here.

Wednesday, 3:40 p.m.: Mark Leiter Jr. (1-0, 3.60) vs. Felix Hernandez (3-2, 4.68)

The end of the quick, two-game series is highlighted by the second start for King Felix since he came off the DL last weekend. He pitched OK (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 6K) but was not very good at all before he went on the shelf. Whether the Phillies get a diminished Felix or not, it’s still an intimidating matchup to hit against one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball through the last 10 years. As for the Phillies, what do they have to lose giving Leiter at least one more start? He earned it in start against Arizona on Friday.

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