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Time: Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
The Philadelphia Phillies couldn’t be overwhelmed by the humble Pirates with a big win on Sunday at Kyle Gibson’s Philadelphia debut. The win kept the Phillies in second place in the NL East standings as they sit 3 1/2 games behind the Mets.
The Washington Nationals, meanwhile, win a streak win over the Chicago Cubs in the Trade Deadline Bowl, with both teams selling off the majority of their top talent when the rebuilding begins.
Washington will look very different from when the Phillies saw her last week. The Nationals swapped Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, Daniel Hudson, Jon Lester, Brad Hand and Kyle Schwarber.
Those two teams shared a set of four games last week, and have even played to a 6-6 record of the season streak up to that point, but will it be any different now with the depleted Nationals squad?
It’s not often that a player gets closer to a start in the middle of the season, but that’s exactly what the Phillies will do with Ranger Suárez on Monday. The left-hander will make his first start since 2018 as the newly acquired Ian Kennedy takes on the narrower role.
Throughout the season, the struggling Phillies Bullpen has relied on Suárez to fill a variety of roles, most recently as a graduate after Héctor Neris lost the job. Suarez was one of the few helpers Philadelphia could count on this year.
In 27 appearances this year, Suárez has nailed it, allowing only five earned runs in 40 1/3 innings, good for an ERA of 1.12. His preferred pitch is a sinker, which he throws 47.1% of the time and this year only allows a batting average of 0.129 and a WOBA of 0.165. Suarez isn’t a big strikeout guy but has achieved an incredible floor ball rate of 64.6.
The Phillies took sixth place in the runs achieved and eighth place in the wOBA in July. You started August with 15 runs and 20 hits against the Pirates yesterday. Every single starter scored a run, including the pitcher. Philadelphia counted nine doubles in the game. JT Realmuto went 5-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs and Bryce Harper went 3-for-4 with three doubles.
Harper beats .415 with a 1,269 OPS in the past two weeks and in 11 games against his former club this season, he beats .417 with a 1,387 OPS and four home runs.
Nationals fans will quickly take a look at the cherished view they received from the Dodgers at the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner dealers. Josiah Gray will make his Washington debut on Monday. He is currently the No. 2 in the Nationals and No. 41 overall in baseball.
Gray made his MLB debut for Los Angeles on July 20, throwing four innings of relief, and he made his first career start on July 25, also throwing four frames. In both of his appearances, he has allowed six runs in eight innings. The good thing for Gray was his 13 strikeouts, a 14.63 K / 9 rate. The bad thing is in just two games, he’s allowed five walks and four home runs.
The 23-year-old had a 2.87 ERA in three Triple A starts and a 12.64 K / 9 rate this year. He has a great slider but has served up some fastballs in his limited big league action.
There’s no point looking at the Nationals’ offensive stats as the majority of that team is no longer on the roster. The only person who matters at this point is Juan Soto.
Since the All-Star Break, Soto has beaten .375 with 1,324 OPS. He has hit seven home runs and scored a total of 16 RBIs in 16 games. It will be up to Soto and Josh Bell to breathe life into this offense for the remainder of this season.
It may be a little risky to endorse a man who hasn’t made a start in three years and has been appointed Closer lately, but Suarez has been great this year and has proven to be solid in every role he’s been pushed into proven. And although he hasn’t started in three years, he still has three career starts compared to just one from Gray.
Suárez has made four appearances against Washington this year and has yet to allow one run in 6 1/3 innings against the Nationals. He has only allowed three hits and taken two wins, including his last appearance last Thursday.
He is expected to line up about three innings, or 50 pitches, in his first start in three years. Most of the throws he’s thrown in one game this season were actually against the Nationals on June 5th. He threw 47 throws in three innings of relief and did not allow a hit on the way to victory.
I don’t expect either of the two starters to last that long and despite the problems with the Phillies Bullpen sometimes the Nationals were worse. Washington’s Bullpen ranked bottom of the league in ERA last month and has just traded two of its best relievers in Hudson and Hand.
The Phillies are only -125 due to the uncertainty that Suarez will join the rotation, but I still think Philadelphia, battling for a playoff spot, has some value against rebuilding the national team. I would reset the Phils to -135.
Choose: Phillies (-125, play until -135)