Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 things: Hot Phils offense takes on Zack Greinke


Phillies (33-45) at Diamondbacks (36-43)
9:40 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies got a little piece of revenge on Monday night, crushing the Diamondbacks, 8-0, after losing all four games to them earlier this month at Citizens Bank Park.

Runs figure to be harder to come by on Tuesday, however, as the Phils face one of the best and hottest pitchers in baseball.

1. Greinke on a roll
The Phillies face D-backs ace Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.61) for the second time in 10 days. The last meeting didn't go so well, with the Phils scoring just one run on three hits over eight innings against the $30 million pitcher. 

Greinke, who signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract with Arizona in the offseason, got off to a poor start in the desert, posting a 6.16 ERA through his first five starts. But he's been earning his money since, going 8-1 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in his last 11 outings.

That said, Greinke still hasn't figured out Chase Field. At his hitter-friendly, homer-friendly new home park, Greinke has a 5.06 ERA and his opponents have nine home runs and an .808 OPS. On the road, Greinke has a 1.85 ERA and his opponents have three homers and a .549 OPS.

With how hot the Phillies' bats have been lately and how much more Greinke has struggled in Phoenix, there is at least the possibility they could get to him tonight. And how sweet would that be after the Phils beat Madison Bumgarner on Saturday and hung six runs on Johnny Cueto Sunday?

Greinke has six different pitches but mostly uses his four-seam fastball, slider and excellent changeup. Against the Phillies on June 18 he used his full repertoire, throwing 24 changeups, 23 sinkers, 16 fastballs, 16 sliders and 15 curveballs.

Current Phils are 14 for 92 (.152) with one homer, four walks and 30 strikeouts lifetime vs. Greinke. Odubel Herrera hit the homer to lead off that June 18 game.

2. Franco locking in?
Maikel Franco finally seems to be settling down, seeing the ball well and squaring it up. He had a three-RBI night Monday, and over his last seven games Franco is 8 for 25 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, seven RBIs and seven walks. 

The walks have really stood out. Franco had just six in April and seven in May, numbers he's equaled over the last week. On Monday, he came up in one situation where earlier in the year he would have expanded the zone and gotten himself out. With two men on and one out in a scoreless game, a wild pitch advanced both runners to second and third. But Franco got ahead in the count and crushed a line drive past a diving shortstop to drive in the Phils' first run. 

Several Phillies have been hot in June — Peter Bourjos, Cameron Rupp, Cody Asche — but Franco has yet to really heat up. The Phillies need a strong second half from him. In 296 plate appearances this season, Franco is hitting .243/.304/.427 with 11 doubles, 12 homers and 40 RBIs.

3. Ever-consistent Eickhoff
Jerad Eickhoff has been the Phillies' steadiest and most reliable starting pitcher since mid-May. He has a 2.23 ERA over his last seven starts and has given up more than three earned runs just once in his last 11 starts.

On the year, Eickhoff is 5-9 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. His worst recent start was against these D-backs in the game Greinke pitched. Eickhoff allowed three runs on nine hits and two homers over 5⅔ innings, falling one out short of a quality start.

Quality starts (six-plus innings, no more than three earned runs) have been Eickhoff's trademark early in his big-league career. He has 17 of them in 23 career starts. Since 2000, only two starting pitchers (Jacob deGrom in 2014-15, Brandon Webb in 2003) had more quality starts in their first 23 tries.

In Eickhoff's 23 starts as a Phillie, he's 8-12 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He's struck out 8.0 batters per nine innings and walked just 2.2 since coming over from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade. During that span, Hamels has gone 15-2 with a 3.19, 1.21 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 27 starts with the Rangers.

4. Joseph slowing down
The strong start Tommy Joseph got off to may have created unrealistic expectations for the rookie first baseman, who has plummeted back to Earth the last few weeks. Joseph went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts Monday, three against left-hander Robbie Ray, whose fastball simply overpowered Joseph.

Over his last 14 games, Joseph is 7 for 55 (.127) with 16 strikeouts. He has three walks and 35 strikeouts in 130 plate appearances this season. He had two solid games over the weekend in San Francisco, going 3 for 8 with a pair of doubles on Saturday and Sunday, but the late swings on Monday were a bit concerning, mostly because they came against a lefty.

Joseph is 11 for 33 (.333) against lefties with a .965 OPS. He's hit just .198 against righties with no walks and 25 strikeouts. However, half of his 18 hits against right-handers have gone for extra bases (three doubles, six home runs).

5. This and that
• It's crazy to say, but Bourjos may be hitting his way to the trading block. Bourjos has gone 21 for 42 (.500) over his last 15 games with six extra-base hits to raise his season batting line to .259/.292/.378. No, that's nothing special, but it's worlds away from where he was just 17 days ago. When play ended on June 11, Bourjos was hitting .192 with an OPS 169 points lower than it is now. If he continues to hit, his defense and speed could make him attractive to a contending club seeking a fourth outfielder.

• One of the most pleasant surprises of this 2016 Phillies season has been Rupp's continued improvement at the plate. He's hitting .270/.309/.478 with 14 doubles, seven homers and 19 RBIs. He ranks fourth among all MLB catchers with a .478 slugging percentage, behind only Wilson Ramos, Salvador Perez and Jonathan Lucroy and ahead of Matt Wieters and Buster Posey. Rupp's 22 extra-base hits are fifth-most among catchers, and all four guys ahead of him have between 56 and 94 more plate appearances.

• Hello there, Edubray Ramos. The Phillies' top minor-league reliever has impressed in three appearances since being called up, allowing just one baserunner and striking out five in 3⅓ scoreless innings. His curveball is every bit as good as Hector Neris' splitter, if not better. With that hook and his biting, mid-90s fastball, Ramos has the look of a future closer. He may even get some opportunities later this season if Jeanmar Gomez is traded or struggles.

Contact Us