In this mid-week edition of Turning Two we will be looking at yet another team in the mix trying to stay afloat, as well as a powerhouse who has almost guaranteed a spot in the postseason.
Philadelphia Phillies (54-48, 3rd Place NL East, 5.5 GB)
The Phillies have been a confusing process this season. After a monster offseason acquiring Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, JT Realmuto and Jean Segura, they have not met expectations thus far. Gabe Kapler entered this year with one managerial season under his belt and would have a strong group of guys to work with. A lineup that was projected to be top five in baseball, as well as a pitching staff that had the chance to make some noise in the NL East. Aaron Nola ended last season as a Cy Young candidate and the 26-year-old entered this season showing his dominance yet again. The rest of the Phils pitching staff has struggled greatly. Jake Arrieta has lost his strikeout pace significantly since his Cy Young season with the Cubs. He’s now playing with fire as he has to pitch to contact and trust his fielders to make the outs.
With the midsummer injury bug killing the Phillies right now, they are still very much in the mix for the Wild Card. Assuming the Braves maintain control of the division, the Phils could be playing in the Wild Card game come October. With Bryce Harper heating up this team could be making a legitimate playoff run once a few players come off the IL. Unfortunately, the Phils outfield has taken a big hit this season. McCutchen tore his ACL earlier in the season while he was having his best season since being a Pittsburgh Pirate. Odubel Herrera in the meantime was struggling. The team has placed him on leave due to his domestic violence dispute. This honestly may have worked out in the teams’ favor. Scott Kingery has been able to cash in more playing time while taking advantage of the situation. He’s been a fantastic filler with his .279 average and .866 OPS. His utility adds to his value being able to play infield and outfield.
On Tuesday the Phillies took to the lovely city of Detroit to face the Tigers for a quick two-game series. Aaron Nola faced Matthew Boyd in an entertaining pitching battle. Aaron Nola was sharp striking out seven in as many innings while giving up just one run. Matthew Boyd also had an impressive line going six innings while striking out eight and giving up two earned. The Tigers were able to put up the first run in the first frame. However, the Phils responded with two of their own in the top of the second off the bat of Roman Quinn. Quinn’s two-run homer was his first of the season and would give the Phillies the early 2-1 lead.
Nicholas Castellanos launched a double to the wall in the sixth to tie the game at two. The game would go to extra innings where the Tigers had runners on first and second with one out. With a ball sent out to left field the winning run was sent home. Brad Miller’s through, however, would beat him to the plate and the winning run was cut down at home. The game would continue in the 15th when Rhys Hoskins sent a go-ahead RBI single to right field which would be the game winning run. Philadelphia would win the marathon 3-2.
Wednesday’s matinee would be one the Tigers would like to forget. Vince Velazquez shut down the Tigers striking out nine over five and two thirds innings pitched. His counterpart, Jordan Zimmerman, continued his struggles this season giving up four earned in four and a third innings. He is still seeking his first victory on the season while his ERA is at an abysmal 7.57. The Phillies kicked off their offense in the fourth inning with a JT Realmuto home run. In the very next frame Nick Williams launched a solo homer while Rhys Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez also drove in a run to make the score 4-0. The score would remain as the Phillies would take two of two in Detroit.
The Phillies return home on Friday for the weekend to face the first place Braves in a series that could swing the NL East in the Braves’ favor if they sweep. Jake Arrieta will face Mike Soroka in the series opener on Friday night.
Los Angeles Angels (54-49, 3rd Place AL West, 11.5 GB)
Since I last wrote about the Angels earlier this month, a whole lot has happened with the team. Most importantly was the loss of Tyler Skaggs, who passed away on July 1st. Since his death, the Angels have rallied and are 12-6. Mike Trout is having a monster July as he strengthens his case as the favorite for AL MVP this season. He’s clubbed 33 homers on the season while driving in 81 RBI’s. He also has an OPS of 1.105. How can anyone else in the AL win MVP? With a big loss of All-Star Tommy La Stella to a fractured Tibia, Kole Calhoun has picked up the freight now with 24 homers on the season. With the Angels pitching being a big question mark, their offense heating up at a great time.
The Angels kicked off the Freeway Series against their cross-city rivals in the Dodgers. The two-game series would be hosted by the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. Game one on Tuesday provided an intense battle between the two. The Angels struck first with a run in the second inning off Kenta Maeda. A Corey Seager sac fly would tie things up at one in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Mike Trout’s 454-foot homer and Kole Calhoun’s RBI double would give the Angels a 4-1 lead. The Dodgers would put two more on the board in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Joc Pederson RBI single. Kole Calhoun stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh and smacked a solo homer to pad the Angels lead. The Dodgers one run in the ninth inning would not be enough as the Angels would hold on to win game one 5-4.
Kole Calhoun kicked things off in Wednesday’s matchup with a first inning RBI double that scored Mike Trout. Later, in the fourth inning, Calhoun stepped up to the plate and delivered yet again with a solo homer to give the Halos a 2-0 lead. Justin Turner followed that up for the Dodgers with a solo shot of his own in the bottom half of the inning. Mike Trout’s sac fly would score David Fletcher in the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth Corey Seager drive in Cody Bellinger with an RBI single. The Dodgers’ scoring stopped there, and the Angels would go on to win 3-2 and sweep the series.
The Angels return home to face the 32-69 Baltimore Orioles on Thursday for a four-game series. It’s a great time for the Angel’s to make some ground in the AL Wild Card race as they are just four games back. For the Halos, Jose Suarez will take the mound against Jimmy Yacabonis on Thursday night.
Waiver Wire Targets
Anthony Santander (6.2% owned/ESPN)
There are not many players on the Orioles that are worth picking up. However, Anthony Santander is playing very well especially as of late. Though he only has 154 at-bats, he is hitting .299 with an OPS of .858. He also can hit for power as well considering his eight homers with few at-bats. If you’re in need of some outfield depth you may want to give Santander a look.
Jose Urquidy (22.1 % owned/ESPN)
If I’m being honest, I have no idea who this man is. He pitches one hell of a game last time out against the Rangers with nine punchouts over seven innings while allowing one earned. He seems to get a whole bunch of strikeouts. Over his 13 innings pitched on the season he has only walked one batter while striking out 17. If he keeps this up in his next start against the red-hot Cardinals, he’ll be worth the pickup for sure.
Retired Little League baseball utility player.