Like the Brewers, the Phillies are in the midst of a strong run of their own. They were 26-32 entering June 3 but have since gone 26-10 to boost their overall record to 51-42, putting them half a game out of a wild card spot. The Phillies ended their first half by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays on the road and took three out of four games from the San Diego Padres over the weekend.
Offensively, the Phillies are sitting on a league-average 100 wRC+ as a team. Some of their more prominent names have taken steps back offensively, but others have made strides at the plate.
Marquee signing Trea Turner has struggled to an 87 OPS+, Kyle Schwarber’s output has been closer to average, and Bryce Harper has not shown much in the way of home run power since returning from Tommy John surgery in May. The Phillies are also missing Rhys Hoskins at first base after he tore his ACL in spring training. However, Brandon Marsh, Bryson Stott, and Nick Castellanos have stepped up their performance with strong showings.
On the mound, the Phillies have weathered uncharacteristically mediocre seasons from co-aces Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez have held down the middle of the rotation with respectable performances. The Phillies have rotated through a few different arms in the fifth spot, including Matt Strahm (now working out of the bullpen), Bailey Falter, and now Cristopher Sanchez.
The most significant improvement has come in the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel has posted a 39% strikeout rate as the team’s closer, and Jose Alvarado was dominant as a setup man before hitting the injured list in early July. Strahm, Andrew Vazquez, and Jeff Hoffman have also turned in solid performances out of the bullpen.
Tuesday, July 18 @ 5:40 p.m.: Julio Teheran vs. Aaron Nola
Teheran has been hit with a pair of correction starts after overperforming many of his peripheral stats through his first six outings. He allowed seven runs against the New York Mets and six against the Chicago Cubs but still pitched into the sixth inning in both outings. The veteran is still sitting on a solid 3.64 ERA and a passable 4.62 FIP. Nola will be his mound opponent in the series opener.
Wednesday, July 19 @ 5:40 p.m.: TBD vs. Cristopher Sanchez
The Brewers still have Wade Miley listed as the team’s starter for Wednesday night’s game, however, he hit the injured list Monday night with left elbow soreness. It seems likely that Colin Rea could get the start here, but the team also has minor-league options in Ethan Small, Janson Junk, and Jason Alexander. Sanchez has thrown the ball well in six starts this year, posting a 3.26 ERA and 4.14 FIP.
Thursday, July 20 @ 11:35 a.m.: Corbin Burnes vs. Taijuan Walker
Burnes is also coming off his best strikeout performance of the season, punching out 13 Reds in six scoreless frames. He’ll get the ball opposite Walker to close out the series.
The Phillies are playing good baseball, and the Brewers have not done much damage at the plate of late despite sweeping the Reds. However, Milwaukee could pull out a sneaky series win. The offense has put up some better performances against left-handed starters in recent matchups, and Burnes has made adjustments to his approach in recent starts that could have him turning a corner. I’ll take the optimistic route and pick the Brewers to win two out of three.