We Hold These Phillies Truths to Likely Be Self-Evident (And We Love It)

We Hold These Phillies Truths to Likely Be Self-Evident (And We Love It)

Our man Rev helps us get ready for opening day next week. These are his words.

Not
long ago I wrote a post urging you to recognize and appreciate just
how amazing an era of Phillies baseball we’ve been treated to. As
a result of this success, Phils-mania has swept across the entire
Delaware
Valley. It’s getting to the point where you cannot go anywhere without
seeing something Phillies related.  Case in point - while waiting
for a prescription to be filled at CVS there was a copy of the most
recent issue of Philadelphia Magazine on the chair next to me. I picked
it up, looked at the cover, and saw Chase Utley staring back at me.
The cover promised details on which TV shows various Phillies DVR, which

teammate they’d least like to play poker against, and other similar
People Magazine/US Weekly insights into the local nine. Apparently there

are four separate covers with either Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins,
or Shane Victorino mugging for the camera. Their Phils coverage even
included an article featuring Phillies WAG’s. Yes, that’s how much
this team has captured our attention…their wives and girlfriends are
deemed worthy of coverage.

Now,
by no means am I anti all of this Phillies mania. If nothing else it’s
a reminder of how far they’ve come. However, there are certain truths
about this team which will reveal themselves over the course of a 162-game schedule. That’s the beautiful thing about following a baseball
team over the course of a season. You pick up on certain quirks,
idiosyncrasies,
and habits of your squad. You follow them day in and day out to the
point that you can anticipate what’s going to happen in any given
situation. This is especially true with a team that’s been together
as long as this one. We’ve had enough of an opportunity to watch them
to the point that we can predict, with a degree of certainty, what’ll
happen. In other words, certain truths about the Phillies have become
self-evident.

Based
on past experience, what follows is a list of things we know we can
expect to see from the two-time defending National League Champions.

  • Jimmy will go through a
    stretch where seemingly every time he steps into the box he’s already
    down 0-2 in the count. He’ll be sitting first pitch fastball and
    they’ll
    pull the cord on him. He’ll be sitting on something offspeed only
    to swing over it anticipating a fastball. During this time the chorus
    of “Jimmy’s not a leadoff hitter” will resume in full throat.
  • Shane, on a night where
    he’s batting in the two-hole in order to give Polanco a rest, will
    get thrown out trying to steal third with two outs and Ryan Howard at
    the plate. Uggghhhh. Mikey Miss will spend the entire next day killing

    him for a lack of baseball smarts.

  • Despite Charlie’s best
    but ultimately unsuccessful effort to give him days off during the
    season
    come September Chase will wear down, start opening up too early, and
    will hit .214 for the month. Everyone will freak out wondering what’s
    wrong with him only to see him hit .328 during the postseason.
  • After flailing at off-speed
    stuff away for the entire month of August The Big Fella will
    exponentially
    reduce the amount of heat on Utley with his annual September power
    surge.
    He’ll resume hitting bombs to leftfield and driving in runs by the
    bushel. Based on his September performance he’ll thrust himself into
    the NL MVP debate.
  • Towards the end of the year,
    Jayson Werth will be approaching a 30-30 season and will be forced to
    deal with a barrage of questions about his impending free agency.
    Werth
    being Werth, he’ll deflect each and every question and will reiterate
    his desire to remain a Phillie, that baseball is a business, and all
    he’s focused on is winning another World Series.
  • Pop Pop Moyer will go through
    a stretch in July where he fails to go more than 4 innings in any
    start.
    All of Philadelphia will be clamoring for Kendrick to take over the
    fifth starter’s job. Come August 3rd Jamie will face the Marlins in
    Florida and twirl a seven inning two hit gem.
  • The Scott Eyre watch. Phils
    LOOGY’s will struggle mightily the first part of the season prompting
    the beat writers to pepper Ruben Amaro Jr. with questions as to
    whether
    he’ll reach out to Scott Eyre. Ruben will deny any interest in
    bringing
    him back, but Eyre’s unwillingness to completely rule out a return
    continues to fuel speculation.
  • The lack of AB’s for the
    bench guys. If the last few years are any indication, and barring
    injury,
    Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs, Ross Gload, and Juan Castro presumably
    aren’t
    going to see a whole lot of plate appearances. I am not including
    Brian
    Schneider in this mix as he’ll likely see a fair number of Sunday
    afternoon and day game following a night game starts behind the plate.
  • Following up an 11 run 14
    hit game in which they’ve chased a top of the rotation guy in the
    4th inning only to be followed up the next day by a 1 run
    3 hit effort against some career journeyman making an emergency start.
  • Ryan Howard costing the
    Phils a game by sailing a throw into left after Cole Hamels or Jamie
    Moyer has a guy picked off of first.
  • Sarge saying “as well”
    1,037 times. Sarge talking about J.R. Richard 311 times. Sarge saying
    “slide piece” 418 times.
  • Me cringing each and every
    time Tom McCarthy says “Oppo Boppo”.
  • L.A. coming close to being
    fined by the FCC after freaking out following a blown call by umpire
    C.B. Bucknor.

Despite knowing
in advance that all of these things are likely to happen it will do
nothing to take away from the enjoyment of watching them. Whether in
person, on television, or on the radio following a baseball team over
the course of a 162 game season is comforting and familiar. They become
part of your daily routine. Who’s pitching that day? How did Chase
deposit two balls over Utley’s corner and into the seats against Johan
Santana? How hot is Howard going to get when they visit St. Louis? It
never gets old. The daily drama is the best.

T-minus one week
until Opening Day.

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff looking for consistency vs. Rockies' potent offense

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff looking for consistency vs. Rockies' potent offense

Phillies (15-26) vs. Rockies (28-17)
Coverage starts at  6:30 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies return home after a disastrous 2-7 road trip to host the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies in a four-game split.

Jerad Eickhoff gets the start for the Phils and is coming off of his best start in a month, but has a tough matchup vs. the Rockies’ potent offense.

Here are five things to know:

1. Like the old Eick
Eickhoff has been the model of consistency for Phillies pitchers since he joined the club in 2015, with 31 quality starts (six or more innings with no more than three earned runs) in 49 career games. But Eickhoff struggled recently, before regaining his form in his last start at Texas.

In his three prior starts — vs. the Dodgers, Cubs and Mariners — Eickhoff averaged just 4.2 innings per start as his ERA ballooned to 4.76. But the righty seemed to regain his form vs. the Rangers in his last start, a six-inning, two-earned-run outing.

Building off of that step will be a tall task, though against an explosive Rockies lineup.

2. Better hitters than Rocky
The hard-hitting Rockies are coming to town.

Colorado boasts one of the league’s best offenses, ranking fourth in runs scored, 10th in home runs and fifth in extra-base hits. Take the Rockies out of the thin air at Coors Field, and the numbers tell a different story, though. On the road, Colorado drops to 12th in runs, 14th in homers and 10th in extra-base hits. Still solid numbers, but nothing that jumps off the page at you. The Phillies (as bad as they are on the road) have more extra-base hits.

The Rockies are led by Mark Reynolds (yes, that Mark Reynolds), with 12 homers and 39 RBI. Shockingly, Reynolds — who has set the all-time single-season strikeout record in a season — is leading the team with a .323 batting average. 

Just about the only thing you don’t have to worry about with the Rockies’ offense is their speed. The Rockies rank dead last in MLB with just 11 steals on the year. 

3. Not the same old Rockies
Despite the dip in numbers on the road, the Rockies are still 15-7 on the road this season, the second-best mark in MLB, behind only the Astros.

What’s different about this year’s team, unlike years past, is the pitching. This year, they’re a middling staff, which is actually a huge improvement for the club. Last season, Rockies pitchers ranked in the bottom five in MLB in almost all categories: 27th in ERA (4.91), 28th in runs allowed (860) and 28th in opponent batting average (.274), just to name a few.

This year, the Rockies have knocked off nearly half a run per game (4.48 ERA) and rank 13th in the entire league with a .250 opponent batting average. With an offense like theirs, a middling pitching staff could be all the Rockies need to earn a postseason bid.

4. Oh, 'Dubel
What’s happened to Odubel Herrera?

After an All-Star 2016 season, Herrera has been one of the Phillies’ biggest disappointments in 2017. Batting just .236 on the year, Herrera is on pace to easily set a career high in strikeouts (168) and career lows in runs (60) and extra-base hits (39). Not a good look for Herrera after signing a five-year deal to be a building block of the future in the offseason. However, there is hope: In his career, Herrera has increased his batting average, runs scored and OPS each month as the season has gone along. 

5. This and that
•Jeff Hoffman will make a spot start for the Rockies on Monday. He’s the Rockies' third-ranked prospect by Baseball America and has a 4.97 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks in 10 career MLB games. Batters are hitting .282 off him this season.

•Eickhoff’s numbers have risen with Cameron Rupp behind the plate. With Rupp catching, Eickhoff has a 3.53 ERA as opposed to a 3.13 ERA with Carlos Ruiz catching.

•After a red-hot start to the month, Aaron Altherr has cooled off over the last week, hitting just .231 with more strikeouts (five) than RBI (four). 

NBA Playoffs: Avery Bradley's buzzer-beating 3 lifts Celtics past Cavaliers in Game 3

NBA Playoffs: Avery Bradley's buzzer-beating 3 lifts Celtics past Cavaliers in Game 3

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Leprechauns are imaginary. Celtic pride is very real.

Avery Bradley's 3-pointer danced on the rim and dropped with less than a second left and Boston, blown out in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals and playing without star Isaiah Thomas, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108 on Sunday night in Game 3 to end the champions' 13-game postseason winning streak.

Bradley's shot from the left wing -- off a play designed by coach Brad Stevens -- bounced on the rim four times before going down. It capped a furious, focused comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over.

"Wide-open look," Bradley said. "Al (Horford) did a great job of getting me open and Marcus (Smart) made a great pass and I was able to knock down the shot."

Smart, who started in place of Thomas, made seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points, and Bradley had 20 for the Celtics, who were given little chance after losing by 44 in Game 2 and then losing Thomas for the rest of the postseason because of a hip injury.

"Everybody had to step up their game tonight especially with one of our brothers down," Smart said. "Our love and support goes out to Isaiah. We wish he could be here but we understand. We just kept fighting. Everybody did their part."

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, and Kevin Love had 28 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers dropped to 10-1 in the postseason with their first loss since Game 4 of last year's Finals.

Game 4 is Tuesday night in Cleveland.

LeBron James had one of the worst games of his postseason career, finishing with 11 points and six turnovers.

"I didn't have it," said James. "You let a team like that grab momentum you almost knew a shot like that was going in."

Still, the Cavs were in control leading 77-56 in the third quarter after making 14 3-pointers in the first half. But Cleveland got complacent, Smart got hot and the Celtics, who arrived at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday morning for their shootaround without Thomas and looking somewhat defeated, never gave up.

"We decided were going to go out and play hard, swinging." Bradley said. "We never counted ourselves out."

The Celtics caught the Cavs at 95-all on Smart's 3-pointer and then matched the James and Co. basket for basket in the final minutes in one of the most entertaining games of what has been a mostly boring postseason.

Boston's Jonas Jerebko's baseline jumper put the Celtics ahead 108-106 with 30 seconds left before Irving scored on a drive to tie it with 10.7 seconds left.

Following a timeout, the Celtics perfectly executed a play drawn up by Stevens and worked the ball to Bradley, who found himself open and then calmly knocked down a shot that goes straight into Celtics lore.

For Cleveland, the loss was a wake-up call on their march toward a possible third straight Finals and a seemingly inevitable rematch with Golden State. The Cavs had been playing a glorified game of H.O.R.S.E. with the Warriors, who are undefeated and can complete a sweep of San Antonio on Monday night.

The Cavs hadn't lost since Game 4 of last year's Finals, and they came in tied with the 1988-89 Los Angeles "Showtime" Lakers for the longest winning streak in postseason history.

With Thomas back home, the Celtics could be forgiven for feeling down after Thomas, their inspirational leader was shut down with a hip injury he first sustained in March.

However, Stevens liked his team's energy leading up to tipoff and felt confident they would play hard.

"Our guys are itching to play," he said. "Obviously, we're here for a reason, and we've got tough-minded, competitive guys who have largely been guys that have had to really earn their way up in this league."

They earned their way back into the series.

Tip-ins
Celtics: Stevens said Thomas will visit hip specialists over the next few days and there's a chance the 28-year-old will need surgery. ... Stevens didn't review much of the Game 2 tape, but there's a mental image in his head of the Cavs making tough shot after tough shot that he can't shake. "As good as they are and they are tremendous, that might have been the best game I've ever seen a team play against us," he said. Does that mean college too? "Yeah, I think they would have beaten all those teams, too," he said, drawing laughter. ...

Cavaliers: James came in needing 73 points to pass Michael Jordan as the top scorer in postseason history. ... Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was an assistant in Boston and said his team reminds him of those Celtics teams with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. "That was a tight group," he said. "They did everything together, dinners and everything." ... Cleveland is 14-0 when leading a series 2-0. ... Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, and fellow rookie Jabrill Peppers took a few shots on the floor before teams came out for warmups.