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Harper returns, Vargas to pitch in series opener against Pirates

Jason Vargas will make his fifth start as a member of the Phillies tonight. (Destiny Lugardo/Phillies Nation)

The Philadelphia Phillies (67-62) will return home to Citizens Bank Park tonight to take on the National League Central’s last place team, the Pittsburgh Pirates (55-75). The Bucs are a team the Phillies should look forward to playing, especially since the team is coming up on a crucial September stretch where 23 of their last 33 games are against teams above .500. However the Phillies have had a tendency to play down to their opponents as they have struggled mightily against mediocre teams in recent weeks. Per Phillies Nation’s Jonny Heller, the Phillies have won a total of five games out of sixteen against the Giants, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Marlins, who are a combined 65 games under.500.

The lineup will get a much needed boost as Bryce Harper will makes his return from the paternity leave list. The team will be without Maikel Franco. The birthday boy was sent down to Triple-A for the second time this season despite a strong showing at the plate in the previous series against the Marlins. It’s another tough break for Franco, but he is sure to be back once the rosters expand in September.

Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s matchup against the Pirates…

Pirates Lineup

  1. Kevin Newman, short stop
  2. Bryan Reynolds, left field
  3. Starling Marte, center field
  4. Jose Osuna, first base
  5. Melky Cabrera, right field
  6. Colin Moran, third base
  7. Jacob Stallings, catcher
  8. Adam Frazier, second base
  9. Joe Musgrove, pitcher

Phillies Lineup

  1. Rhys Hoskins, first base
  2. Bryce Harper, right field
  3. J.T. Realmuto, catcher
  4. Corey Dickerson, left field
  5. Jean Segura, short stop
  6. Brad Miller, third base
  7. Scott Kingery, second base
  8. Adam Haseley, center field
  9. Jason Vargas, pitcher

Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Matchup

  • Jason Vargas (6-6, 3.99 ERA, 4.84 FIP, xFIP) vs. Joe Musgrove (8-12, 4.74 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 4.51 xFIP)
  • Vargas last start against the Pirates came about a month ago as a member of the Mets. He went five and two third innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out five in a win at Citi Field. Vargas career numbers against Pittsburgh aren’t pretty. He is 2-0 with a 7.11 ERA, giving up 15 earned runs in 19 innings.
  • Musgrove was very good in a July outing against the Phillies in Pittsburgh this season. He earned the victory after going six innings and allowing one unearned run while striking out eight.

Pregame Phillies Nuggets

  • The Pirates are 11-30 since since the All-Star break, but have improved in recent weeks. They have won three straight games for the first time since July 1-3 and have gone 4-2 in their last six.
  • Today is the third anniversary of the Phillies trading beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for A.J. Ellis and minor-leaguer Tommy Bergjans. Ruiz, who had been with the Phillies organization since 1998, batted .266 with 68 home runs and 401 RBI in 11 seasons with the team. He remains the Phillies all-time leader in bWAR at the catcher’s position. He made his last MLB appearance on September 30, 2017 with the Seattle Mariners and is still playing professional baseball in the Panama Major League.
  • Bryce Harper returns to the lineup in tonight’s game. He missed the last three games while on paternity leave waiting for his wife to give birth to their first son. Harper’s wife Kayla finally announced the birth of their son, who was born in Las Vegas, via Instagram earlier today.

View this post on Instagram

⭐️⚡️ Krew Aron Harper ⚡️⭐️

A post shared by Kayla Harper (@kayy.harper) on

  • Rhys Hoskins leads MLB in in total pitches seen per plate appearance (2.6007), pitches per plate appearance (4.610) and is tied for first with Mike Trout in walks (101).
  • Vargas is two victories away from reaching 100 career wins. When he reaches 100 wins, he will become the 11 active pitcher to reach that milestone.

Ticket IQ Programming Information

  • 7:05 at Citizens Bank Park
  • NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Sportsradio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

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