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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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As usual, we have an abbreviated schedule on Monday: nine evening games and one afternoon game. That afternoon game was at Citizens Bank Park, as the Phillies are hosting the Diamondbacks in the finale of a four-game series. The woebegone Phillies lost again, 3-1, suffering a series sweep and their seventh consecutive loss, dropping their record to 30-41. The offense has been held to two or fewer runs in six consecutive games.

On May 14, the Phillies were 22-15 and the roster seemed to gel much quicker than anticipated. The starting pitching was great, the back end of the bullpen was reliable, and the offense was able to churn out four runs a game on a regular basis. Since then, the Phillies are 8-26 (.235) with a staff ERA of 4.93 and an aggregate battling line of .219/.269/.355. In fact, the Phillies entered Monday’s game with a team on-base percentage of .279, easily the worst in the league. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes, the only team to post a worse on-base percentage were the 112-loss Mets of 1965.

That the Phillies are bad isn’t a startling fact. They were expected to challenge the Braves for the honor of finishing with baseball’s worst record this season. They’re now only six games “ahead” of the Braves with 91 games left in the season. FanGraphs projects the Phillies to be the worst team in baseball the rest of the way, at 36-56, but only a half-game ahead of the Braves, so they may not repeat the honor of picking first in the draft next season. Still, a protected top-10 pick would be great, setting the team up well for the future.

As a Phillies fan, it’s tough to watch the team right now, but this is who they were all along. They were never as good as they appeared in the first month and a half of the season.

The rest of Monday’s action…

San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright), 7:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) @ Miami Marlins (Paul Clemens), 7:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns) @ Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey), 7:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly) @ Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin), 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 8:05 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Chicago Cubs (John Lackey), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Jhoulys Chacin) @ Houston Astros (Doug Fister), 8:10 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Yusmeiro Petit) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 10:10 PM EDT [Note]

Marcus Stroman dealing with blister again

Marcus Stroman
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Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.

Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.

While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.