Four months ago today, Zack Wheeler and Brandon Woodruff met up in one of the most well-pitched games of the season.
Woodruff, the Brewers’ ace, racked up 11 strikeouts and muted the Phillies until Alec Bohm (remember him?) homered in the seventh inning. But the day belonged to Wheeler, who twirled a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory at Citizens Bank Park.
Round 2 is today in Milwaukee.
The Cy Young candidates will lock up again in the opener of a big series at the start of another hugely important week, at least for the Phillies. They are two games behind the Braves in the NL East and 2 1/2 out in the wild-card race. And while they square off with the Brew Crew, which leads the NL Central by 11 games, the Braves will host the last-place Nationals beginning Tuesday night.
“We’ve got an opportunity to be great,” Bryce Harper said Sunday after nine relievers combined to allow two hits in a 4-3, 10-inning victory in Miami. “We’ve got to keep going, not really worry about what other teams are doing. We have to win games.”
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J.T. Realmuto discusses the health of his shoulder, how much he will catch down the stretch, and poised rookie Rafael Marchan.
Joe Girardi’s reaction to Harper’s bizarre sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning Sunday: “No comment,” the manager said.
If you missed it Saturday, Ranger Suárez left after five scoreless innings because of tightness in his left triceps. The Phillies expect him to make his next start, but they’ll watch him closely.
As Derek Jeter gets set to enter the Hall of Fame, Girardi and Didi Gregorius shared their thoughts on his legacy.
Today: Aces up! Wheeler vs. Woodruff in Milwaukee, 2:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Aaron Nola faces Brewers lefty Eric Lauer, 7:40 p.m.
Wednesday: Kyle Gibson vs. Freddy Peralta in Milwaukee finale, 7:40 p.m.
Thursday: The Phillies return home to face the Rockies, 7:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
Andrew McCutchen is batting .309 and slugging .669 with a .429 on-base percentage, six doubles, one triple and 14 homers in 168 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season.
Not bad, right? It’s actually among the best in baseball.
Among all players with at least 165 plate appearances against lefties entering play Sunday, McCutchen led the majors in OPS (1.098) and slugging and was fifth in average. He was also tied for fourth in walks (26) and tied for fifth in homers.
(McCutchen against righties: .181/.296/.324, nine homers in 311 plate appearances entering Sunday.)
In the last 47 years, one Phillies player has outhit McCutchen against lefties in a minimum of 165 plate appearances: Mike Schmidt in 1974 (.342/.456/.696) and 1986 (.357/.474/.707).
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Question: Scott, is there still time for the Phillies to stretch out Bailey Falter to slide him into the fifth rotation slot in lieu of [Matt] Moore, even if only to get him to five innings? —Bob K., via Twitter
Answer: Thanks, Bob. I’ve asked about Falter, and it sounds like he may have gotten a look as the No. 5 starter if he hadn’t missed a month after coming down with COVID-19. Since his return, he has thrown 29, 25, 20, 24, 28, 10, and 27 pitches. Notice a pattern? At this point in the season, the Phillies seem to believe Falter can get more than three outs but not a lot more. He got seven Sunday, which is probably about as much as they will ask of him.