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Ex-Astro Garrett Stubbs will do ‘everything I can’ to help Phillies beat his former team

Stubbs says he will "be giving away all of the stuff that I feel can help us win the game over the next three days.”

Garrett Stubbs has proven to be an effective backup catcher in his first season with the Phillies.
Garrett Stubbs has proven to be an effective backup catcher in his first season with the Phillies.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

HOUSTON — The last time the Phillies played in Minute Maid Park was on Sept. 16, 2012. Charlie Manuel was managing, Roy Halladay was pitching, and Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard roamed the infield. It’s been a while. But luckily for the Phillies, they have someone on their roster who can get them up to speed.

Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs knows this ballpark better than he knows his own. He rose through the Astros farm system alongside some of their best hitters, like Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez. In the minor leagues, he caught two of the three starters the Phillies are facing over this three-game set in Houston: Lance McCullers Jr. and Framber Valdez.

» READ MORE: Projecting the Phillies’ playoff roster: Who’s in, who’s out in series vs. Mets or Cardinals

Stubbs was part of the Astros organization from 2015 to November of 2021, when he was traded to the Phillies for outfielder Logan Cerny. You better believe his Phillies teammates are peppering him with questions.

“I’ll give them insight,” Stubbs said. “As much as I loved being in Houston and being part of that team, I’m on the other side now, and they know that I’m going to do everything I can to beat them. I’ll be giving away all of the stuff that I feel can help us win the game over the next three days.”

Against a different team, Stubbs’ intel might not be as much of an asset, but the Phillies would like to win at least one of these three games to secure a postseason spot without having to rely on a Brewers loss. And it won’t be easy. The Astros have won 104 games this season, and Dusty Baker said that he’s going to start his best pitchers against the Phillies — Justin Verlander, McCullers and Valdez. Those starters are not expected to go deep into the games this series, but the Astros’ bullpen has a lower ERA (2.79) than their rotation does (2.99). So, the Phillies will take any help they can get.

“He knows these guys,” interim manager Rob Thomson said of Stubbs. “He knows these guys very well.”

This is Stubbs’ first time back at Minute Maid Park since he was traded. It has felt familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. He went to his favorite breakfast spot in uptown Houston on Monday morning, but when he arrived at the ballpark, he walked all the way around the tunnel to the visitors’ clubhouse. That was different.

But the biggest difference for Stubbs is that he’s playing on a team that needs him on the big-league roster for a full season. In Houston, he was the backup’s backup. In Philadelphia, he’s the starter’s backup. J.T. Realmuto can catch a lot of games, but not every game, and Stubbs has proved to be a more than capable replacement. He’s come through in the clutch, and has put together his best offensive season in four-year big league career, slashing .267/.351/.475 with an .826 OPS.

» READ MORE: The Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto is dominating the bases unlike any other player in baseball

Stubbs has been on a few of the Astros’ postseason rosters, in 2020 and 2021, but has never taken an at-bat deep in October. His only appearance was as defensive replacement for Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 2021 World Series, when the Astros were trailing the Braves, 7-0.

If the Phillies make the playoffs, Realmuto will get the bulk of the playing time. But Stubbs will certainly have opportunities to contribute. And he’ll be ready.

“Whether it be pinch running or something like that, it’ll be nice to be on the roster that I’ve been a part of all year,” he said. “It’s just a different feeling. You feel like you’ve had an impact. You feel like you’re a little it more of a part of it.”

Extra bases

Thomson made a point of emphasizing on Monday that there is no guarantee that Edmundo Sosa (right hamstring strain) or Brad Hand (left elbow tendinitis) will rejoin the Phillies in time to include on a potential playoff roster. But it seems as though they are each progressing at an encouraging clip. Hand threw a bullpen on Monday that went “really good,” according to Thomson, and Sosa did a full intensity workout, meant to feel like game speed. The Phillies will see how they respond to Monday’s work.