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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]

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.