Come On and Take a Free Ride: Sixers Vs. Bobcats in Charlotte

Come On and Take a Free Ride: Sixers Vs. Bobcats in Charlotte

You should never get too cocky in this league, and it's not like the
Sixers have been lighting the NBA on fire the last week or so—in their
last three games, they've lost to the Spurs and Clippers, and went into
cruise control in what probably should have been a blowout win against
an undermanned Cleveland team. Still, it's hard not to feel about as
confident as possible in a win going into tonight's game against the
Charlotte Bobcats. Them dudes is 3-24 for the season, with zero wins in
their last 14 games—miserably short on professional-caliber basketball
players and seemingly destined for one of the highest of lottery picks.

There's no real point in talking matchups here—if the Sixers can't take
care of business, it'll be due to some sort of team-wide malaise that
causes them to do bad all the things they normally do good—but let's
look at a couple things with the Sixers themselves that might be worth
focusing in on:

1. Can Evan Turner reclaim his minutes? What started out a dynamite
second year for the Extraterrestrial has gone a little south, with Coach
Collins cutting his PT (no games over 25 minutes since Feb. 1st) and no
clear reason why. Granted, Turner does one or two things a game that
cause Coach Collins to shake his head (dumb fouls, missed assignments,
getting fancy with the ball and turning it over), but he's still a
fairly consistent producer, and a key to the team's future. We've been
warned about Collins' tendency to grate on younger players, and if he
keeps giving ET the stick, it's not hard to see their relationship
souring in the not-too-distant future.

2. Can Jrue continue to get to the line? It was heartening to see our
young point guard actually rack up the FTAs in Saturday's game against
the Cavs—a season-high eight shots at the line, after six the game
before against the Clippers, both well above The Damaja's 2.7/game
average. We need someone besides Sweet Lou to draw fouls on this team,
and Jrue's shown the craftiness around the basket to convert as well, so
it's a trend we'd like to see stay up.

3. Who's playing center? If Hawes is still out—and we're starting to get
legitimately worried about our center's ability to stay healthy this
season—can Nik Vucevic hold down the position in his absence, without
getting out-muscled under the basket and failing to properly guard the
pick and roll? At the very least, we'd like to see him regain the
outside touch he showed earlier in the season—Nik is just 10-24 in his
last four games.

7:00 tip from Time Warner Cable Arena. If we lose this one, there will be no recap, trust.

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

We're all looking forward to the free-agent class of 2018.

If Maikel Franco doesn't shape up, the Phillies could make a hard push for Manny Machado. Franco after a two-game benching is back in the lineup for this afternoon's game against the Rockies (see story).

Then, of course, there's Bryce Harper, who earlier this month agreed to a one-year, $21,625,000 deal for next season. 

And guess what? If Harper becomes a free agent after next season, the Phillies would be interested in signing him.

Really?

According to a FanRagSportsNetwork, citing a Phillies source, the Phils would be interested luring Harper to Philly.

Shocker. 

It'd be big news if a Phillies source said the team wasn't interested in signing Harper. 

Anyway, the story also quotes a National League scout.

“Could you imagine what he could do in that ballpark playing 81 games a year in that bandbox?” the scout said.

Chances are every Phillies fan has already imagined it. Harper this season alone is hitting .351/.400/.784 with five homers and 12 RBIs in nine games against the Phils. In three games at the Bank, he's hitting just .250 with a homer and two RBIs.

But in 38 career games at CBP, he's hitting .296/.361/.627 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

In 89 career games against the Phillies, he's hitting .282 with 20 homers and 54 RBIs.

At the risk of stating the obvious, here's one thing to remember: If the Phils sign Harper, then he'd no longer benefit from facing them.

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Well, this hasn't gone well. 

Coming into Thursday afternoon's game against the Rockies, the Phillies have lost five straight. They've lost nine of their last 10. They've lost 20 of their last 24. 

At 15-29, they're not just the worst team in the NL East. They're not just the worst team in the National League. 

Through 44 games, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. 

Just to make it to a .500 record this season, they would need to go 66-52 (.559) the rest of the way. 

Their four-game series against the Rockies will mercifully come to a close on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In the first three games of the series -- all losses -- the Phils have been outscored 23-5. 

Maikel Franco returns to the four-hole as the Phillies try to snap out of their funk.

The Phillies on Thursday also activated right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez from the disabled list. Gomez takes Adam Morgan's spot on the roster. Morgan was reassigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after throwing three scoreless innings during the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

Gomez hasn't pitched since May 4 because of an elbow injury. He began the season as the Phillies' closer but was demoted after blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his first five innings. In 11 1/3 innings this season, Gomez has a 7.94 ERA.

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P