Phillies Look to Get Back to .500 Against Orioles

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly editor

On the heels of a dominating, but way too close (looking at you, Nick Pivetta) 13-8 win over the Atlanta Braves Monday night, the Phillies (5-6) host the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles (7-7) for a three game series at Citizens Bank Park.

This will be the first game for the Orioles since Aug 8, although they played the next night, albeit the game is currently suspended in the sixth inning. They won their previous two games, both against the Washington Nationals, by a combined score of 16-3.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET and will be aired on NBCSP (tv) and WIP/WTTM1680 (radio).

The club gave Aaron Nola his first win in 356 days and will look to continue that momentum for a pitcher that has yet to lose a game in a Phillies uniform, RHP Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler (2-0) has looked every bit as sharp as advertised since the Phillies signed him to a five-year $118 million contract this past offseason. He has pitched to the tune of a 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and has struck out six hitters across his 13 innings. He will have to tame an Orioles offense that has been surprisingly good this season, scoring 4.64 runs per game, 13th best in all of baseball. For comparison, the Phillies rank seventh in that department, averaging an even five runs per contest.

The Orioles to look out for are DH Renato Nunez (5 HR, 11 RBI), OF Anthony Santander (3 HR, 14 RBI), 2B Hanser Alberto (.349 avg, 8 RBI) and SS Jose Iglesias (.405 avg, 7 doubles).

Wheeler will be opposed by oft-injured RHP Alex Cobb.

Cobb (1-1) owns a 2.51 ERA across three starts while striking out 15 in 14 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .182 off him due in part to a nasty split finger that has generated only three hits against him this season.

His underlying metrics do suggest some regression, which is something the Phillies could capitalize on.  He has an xERA of 4.93, which is may leave some cause for concern. He is also among the bottom 10 in baseball in hard hit percentage. Fifty percent of his batted balls have been hit hard, according to baseball savant, and he has been helped out by some good defense.

The splitter has also helped him to a career-low 7.5 percent fly ball ratio, something the Phillies, who hit five home runs against the Braves Monday night, could struggle with.

When healthy, Cobb has had a lot of success at the major-league level, but he has thrown more than 150 innings just twice in the last five seasons.

Phillies Manager Joe Girardi will deploy the following lineup.

This after the Phillies gave their bullpen a much-needed makeover.

The time is now for the Phils to gain momentum heading into the rest of the week.