Michael Barkann

How Phillies would have matched up this week against the young Blue Jays

How Phillies would have matched up this week against the young Blue Jays

A beautiful day to begin the week as the Phillies should have been greeting the Toronto Blue Jays at CBP.

I don’t know about you, but Toronto will always have a special place in my Philadelphia sports heart because we share the memory of Hall of Fame pitcher, the late Roy Halladay. Halladay played most of his stellar 16-year career in Toronto, but he played the last quarter of it in Philadelphia.

What he gave us ... was perfect. Literally.

In 2010 alone — Halladay's first season in Philadelphia — he authored a perfect game, a playoff no-hitter and won his second Cy Young Award (he gave Carlos Ruiz a replica trophy for putting down the right signals that season, remember?)

The Phillies would've been playing their second home series. The teams have played six times during the past two seasons with one run separating the total score (27-26). Toronto won four of the six, however.

The teams were scheduled for two more in Toronto in mid-September.

Despite missing the playoffs last season, the Jays have some talent, starting at shortstop with 22-year-old leadoff man Bo Bichette. Bichette played in 46 games last season and hit .311 with a .930 OPS, projecting nearly 40 home runs over a full season. Good glove, good speed too.

Toronto's first four spots in the roster are homegrown talent ending with cleanup up hitter, the young stud, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Guerrero made his major league debut last season at age 20 and hit .272 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs in 123 games.

His father was a former MVP primarily for the Expos and Angels and young Vlad could be headed for a similar career. The elder Guerrero was a major Phillie-killer — his .371 batting average and 31 home runs (91 games) against the Phillies were his most vs. any team.

The first three starters are new faces in the Blue Jays rotation. The club solid lefty signed Hyun-Jin Ryu from the Dodgers, traded for Chase Anderson from the Brewers and signed Tanner Roark from the A’s.

Toronto's closer? Former Phillie Ken “100 Miles” Giles. After a shaky end to his run in Houston, Giles bounced back last season with a 1.87 ERA in 53 innings with 83 strikeouts.

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How we would have been breaking down Phillies' home opening series vs. Brewers

How we would have been breaking down Phillies' home opening series vs. Brewers

After playing nearly the first week of the season on the road (just as they have four of the last five seasons), today the Phillies open up Citizens Bank Park for the 2020 season. What a beeee-U-T-FULL day it is! Perfect for what would have been opening day. 

It's a crusher, isn't it? First off, the weather's usually terrible for the home opener and we get a day like this. Second, the Phillies would have mopped up with the Marlins and then the Mets to start the season, it says right here. The Phillies would be looking for a third straight home-opening win.

So who's the opponent for the Fightins on the occasion of their 139th home opener? One of last season's wild-card entrants, the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew lost the wild-card game to the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals 4-3. Blew a 3-0 lead as the Nats scored three eighth-inning runs and that was it. Josh Hader, Milwaukee's elite closer, took the loss.

In the lineup, Yasmani Grandal left after one strong season and Mike Moustakas joined the Reds after hitting 35 homers in 2020. The Brewers have just two players remaining from last year's 1-8. Chief among them, 2018 MVP (and last season's runner-up) Christian Yelich.

Can you count on a lineup with that kind of turnover? One positive is second-year cleanup hitter Keston Hiura. He played in 84 games last season but if the second baseman meets expectations (30+ home runs, batting average near .300) maybe this lineup can withstand the key losses.

As for former MVP Ryan Braun, at this point in his career the 13-year veteran will split time at first base and in the outfield.

Brewers pitching? Brandon Woodruff's coming off an All-Star season in '19 but the rest of Milwaukee's rotation could be a weakness. They've got three new pieces in the rotation via free agency and trade, and Adrian Houser, had a 3.72 ERA in 18 starts for the Brewers last season.

Woulda been a great day ...

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How Phillies would have matched up this week against Mets

How Phillies would have matched up this week against Mets

Let’s say we’re beginning the first full week of the Major League Baseball season (hey — we can dream, can’t we?). That would mean your Fightin’ Phils would find themselves in Queens, NY visiting the Mets for the first of three games at Citi Field.

The Mets, with 86 wins, finished five games ahead of the Phillies (81-81) in 2019. New York made a nine-game improvement from 2018 (77-85) while the Phillies won just one more game — in part leading to manager Gabe Kapler’s dismissal.

BUT ... the Phils took 12 of 19 in the season series last year against New York.

The Mets' rotation is fairly strong (Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello) and that’s with Noah Syndergaard out for the season after Tommy John surgery last week.

They’ve got a pretty strong bullpen with Robert GSELLman (fun to say) in middle relief and Edwin Diaz closing.

How is New York’s 1 through 8?

Pretty good. They’re young and have the young All-Stars, Jeff McNeil and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, at the top and middle of the order. Robinson Cano and Yoenis Cespedes are big keys — Cano was irrelevant in 2019 and Cespedes was hurt. In all, there are five current or former All-Stars in the lineup for the Mets this season.

The Mets would be in the midst of a season-opening five-game homestand. The Phillies were supposed to be in Miami and New York before coming back to Philly for Thursday's home opener against the Brewers. Oh well.

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