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Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (43-75) vs. San Francisco Giants (48-74)

This weekend’s four-game series against the San Francisco Giants will be like looking into a mirror for the Phillies. Both teams are experiencing disappointing seasons, to say the least. Ever since ace Madison Bumgarner went down just three weeks into the season, the Giants have been on a downward spiral. And we all know the Phillies’ woes.

The Phillies were just swept in San Diego and are just 6-11 on the road since the All-Star Break. If it wasn’t for their six wins against the Braves, the Phils’ overall record since the break would be just 8-17.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Both teams find themselves at the bottom of nearly every offensive category. Giants are 29th in on-base percentage (.306) while the Phillies are just a couple spots ahead at 27th (.312). San Fran is dead last in both OPS and slugging percentage and the Phils aren’t much better, coming in at 26th (OPS) and 27th (SLG). Pick a category and chances are you’ll find them both at the bottom of the barrel.
The Phils won two of three when the Giants came to Philly back in June. Despite the teams’ offensive woes, 34 runs were scored in the series. Still, you’re going to need a coffee – or shot – to get through these late-night games.
PROBABLE STARTERS
Thursday, 10:15 p.m., Aaron Nola (3.02 ERA, 9-7) vs. Jeff Samardzija (4.74 ERA, 7-12) 
Perhaps the only reason this season hasn’t been a complete wash is Aaron Nola. He has been one of the leagues best pitchers since returning from the disabled list at the end of May. In his last 10 starts, he has been downright dominant. He’s 7-3 with a 1.71 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. In those starts, he went at least six  innings, giving up just two runs or few in each.
Not as impressive as Nola but Samardzija has also been pitching well of late. In his last four starts, the veteran righty is 3-1 with a 3.29 ERA and pitched at least six innings in each of those starts. Although nobody on the current roster has faced him before, Samardzija hasn’t fared well against the Phillies. He has a 8.67 ERA and a 1-4 record in ten games (four starts).
Friday, 10:15 p.m., Zach Eflin (5.76 ERA, 1-4) vs. Matt Moore (5.71 ERA, 3-12)
Despite this only being his second season, this will be Zach Eflin’s third start against the Giants and second in San Francisco. In his start at AT&T last June, Eflin threw six shutout innings, giving up just five hits and walking none. He didn’t fare so well at Citizens Bank Park later in the season, however, surrounding six runs over five innings.
Moore has had a rough season but gave up just two runs and struck out nine over seven innings against the Nationals in his last start. In three career games against the Phils, Moore has a 6.14 ERA. Earlier this season, Moore lasted just four innings and gave up four earned runs, including a home run to Freddy Galvis.
Saturday, 9:05 p.m., Jerad Eickhoff (4.33 ERA, 3-7) vs. Ty Blach (8-8, 4.37 ERA)
Since returning from the DL right before the break, Eickhoff has pitched well. He’s given up more than three runs just once in seven starts and has limited opponents to just four homers – three in one bad start against Miami. Still, Eickhoff struggles to go deep in games. He has only one start with seven or more innings and that was back in April.
Blach has put together a decent resume in his first full season. He’s had some rocky starts, including a six-run outing against Miami earlier this week, but has had eight quality starts in a row. In case you forgot, Blach blanked the Phils in his only complete game of the season back in June.
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. , Mark Leiter (4.38 ERA, 1-3) vs. Madison Bumgarner (2.99, 3-5 ERA) 
With Vince Velasquez back on the DL, Mark Leiter will take the mound in the series finale. He’s had various roles this season, from fill-in starter to long man in blowouts, so it’s tough to give an accurate review. In his last start against the Padres, he gave up eight runs but just four were earned as the Phils’ defense unraveled.
Much of the Giants’ disappointing season has fallen on Bumgarner’s shoulders but the lefty is putting together a nice – albeit short – resume. In all but one of his 11 starts, he has gone six innings and has given up more than three runs just twice. Maikel Franco has had success against Bumgarner, hitting .455 with a homer and two RBIs.

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