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Struggling Phillies turn to Nola in road matchup against Rays

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Having lost five straight games, the Philadelphia Phillies (1-6) will turn to their top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, right-hander Aaron Nola, as the Phillies travel to Charlotte Sports Park to take on southpaw Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays (4-4) in a Friday matinee.

Snell will be the second straight left-handed starter the Phillies have faced, as the club fell to CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees on Thursday, 6-4. Outfielders Aaron Altherr (solo home run) and Matt McBride (RBI groundout and two-RBI double) led the way on offense for the Phillies, while Roman Quinn, playing as shortstop for the first time since June 2014, walked twice.

The Phillies' Odubel Herrera will make his first start in the outfield this spring. Herrera has been limited to three starts as the designated hitter thus far, nursing a sore right shoulder.

The Phillies own the worst winning percentage throughout all of baseball this spring, .143. They and the Pittsburgh Pirates (.200) are the only teams yet to win more than one game. The Phillies' first victory came last Saturday, Feb. 24, as they topped the split-squad Baltimore Orioles, 9-6.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Philadelphia Phillies (1-6) Tampa Bay Rays (4-4)
RHP Aaron Nola LHP Blake Snell
(0-1, 13.50 ERA) (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Nola, 24, will make his first start since being named the Opening Day starter by manager Gabe Kapler following his spring debut last Sunday, Feb. 25. Nola suffered the loss against the Yankees, allowing three runs on four hits and three strikeouts. While the right-hander got knocked around in the first, Nola settled in and threw a 1-2-3 second.

The Phillies and Nola, who does not become arbitration eligible until the 2019-2021 seasons, agreed to a $573,000 split contract for the 2018 season on Feb. 2. Nola went 12-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts with the Phillies last season, striking out 184 batters in 168 innings.

Snell, 25, is coming off of a strong spring debut, away against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers on Sunday. The southpaw threw a perfect two innings, striking out four of the last five batters he faced.

Through two seasons and 43 starts thus far with the Rays, Snell is 11-15 with a 3.83 ERA and 217-110 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 218 1/3 innings. He poses to be Tampa's No. 2 starter heading into the regular season behind two-time All-Star RHP Chris Archer.

Starting Lineups:

Philadelphia Phillies (1-6) Tampa Bay Rays (4-4)
  Position Player Bats   Position Player Bats
1 2B Scott Kingery* R 1 CF Kevin Kiermaier L
2 CF Odubel Herrera L 2 2B Joey Wendle L
3 DH Rhys Hoskins R 3 C Wilson Ramos R
4 LF Nick Williams L 4 1B Jake Bauers L
5 3B Maikel Franco R 5 DH Jesus Sucre R
6 SS Pedro Florimon* S 6 LF Joe McCarthy* L
7 RF Roman Quinn S 7 RF Jason Coats* R
8 C Cameron Rupp R 8 SS Christian Arroyo R
9 1B Ryan Flaherty* L 9 3B Kean Wong* L

* non-roster invitee

Broadcast Information:

  • First pitch: 1:05 p.m.
  • TV: N/A
  • Radio:

Game Notes:

  • Kapler will oppose the Rays for the first time as manager, the team he spent the final two years of his 12-season career with from 2009-2010. Ex-Rays outfielder Sam Fuld is also part of the Phillies coaching staff as the major league player information coordinator.
  • After Snell, the Phillies will face Rays closer Alex Colome, and veteran relievers Sergio Romo and Daniel Hudson, accoding to the Tampa Bay Times' Marc TopkinDrew Hutchinson, Drew Anderson, Tommy Hunter, Edubray Ramos and Ricardo Pinto are scheduled to enter in relief of Nola. Hunter is also a former Ray, appearing in 61 games for them in 2017.
  • Friday's matchup will be the first of three meetings between the Phillies and Rays this spring. The Phillies will host manager Kevin Cash's squad at home on Saturday, March 10, followed by Tuesday, March 13. Both clubs will then meet next month in Tampa for a three-game, regular season set on April 13-15.
  • Rays No. 24 prospect, catcher Nick Ciuffo, received seven staples in the back of his head, repairing "close to an inch-long cut," according to Rays broadcaster Neil Solondz. Ciuffo was previously perceived to sustain a concussion after being struck with Orioles outfieler DJ Stewart's backswing and had to be carted off the field on Thursday. Ciuffo received a 50-game ban on Feb. 10 after a second positive test for a drug of abuse.
  • Phillies pitching is tied with the Toronto Blue Jays staff for allowing the third-most home runs this spring 12. They trail just the Arizona Diamondbacks (14) and Seattle Mariners (13).
  • On offense, the Phllies are tied with the Twins for producing the fourth-fewest hits this spring, 56, behind only the Miami Marlins and Blue Jays (55), Washington Nationals (50) and Pirates (49).
  • The Rays and Phillies farm systems were ranked the fourth and fifth-best in baseball on Thursday by

What's Next:

The Phillies squad will split on Saturday to oppose the Orioles home in Clearwater, and the Pirates away in Bradenton. Orioles' RHP Kevin Gausman, who is wearing No. 34 this season to honor the late Roy Halladay, will start at Spectrum Field.

  • Saturday, March 3, 2018: vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:05 p.m.
    • Spectrum Field, Clearwater, Fla.
    • RHP Kevin Gausman (0-1, 33.75 ERA) vs. RHP Tom Eshelman (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
    • TV: NBCSP+; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP
  • Saturday, March 3, 2018: at Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
    • LECOM Park, Bradenton, Fla.
    • RHP Ben Lively (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Ivan Nova (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
    • TV: N/A; Radio: N/A


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