August 09, 2016
A week from today, Chase Utley will arrive in Philadelphia and prepare for a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park that can be best summarized with the following two videos.
But before meeting his former team at his former ballpark, Utley had the chance to get some of the man-hugs and handshakes out of the way on Monday night in Los Angeles. The Dodgers leadoff hitter and his team weren’t very welcoming to Utley’s old friends (or, what’s left of his old friends).
Utley ripped his eighth home run of the year to lead off the second inning, after the Dodgers had scored five times off Zach Eflin in the first, as Los Angeles rolled to a 9-4 victory over the Phillies. After winning back-to-back series over the Giants and Padres, the Phillies will have to pull out a victory in Chavez Ravine on Tuesday -- Southern California native Vince Velasquez is matched up against Dodgers rookie Kenta Maeda -- to avoid their first series loss in more than a week (at least until Wednesday afternoon).
But after failing to muster much offense off Dodgers teenage phenom Julio Urias on Monday, it’s difficult to project better things lie ahead against fellow rookie Maeda. The Japanese right-hander is 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 22 starts this season.
Maeda might be a strong choice for National League Rookie of the Year honors if it weren’t for the presence of two power-hitting shortstops in his division. Colorado Trevor Story’s candidacy took a hit last week when a thumb injury likely ended his season.
But Maeda’s own teammate, Corey Seager, would seem like the shoo-in for NL Rookie honors. Seager homered twice against the Phillies on Monday night and is hitting .302/.357/.532 with 21 home runs this season; his 4.4 WAR ranked second among all National League players, trailing only Chicago’s Kris Bryant.
• Speaking of rookies, Tommy Joseph hit his 15th home run of the season on Monday. Only two rookies in the big leagues have hit more home runs (Seager and Story). And Joseph has hit his in just 215 at-bats, 157 fewer at-bats than Story and 219 fewer at-bats than Seager. Through his first 66 major league games Joseph is slashing .256/.306/.507. Joseph's 15 home runs are the most by a Phillies rookie since Ryan Howard hit 22 in 2005.
• Wait, there are still more rookies! Zach Eflin has appeared to have hit a wall in the last two weeks. After sporting a 2.08 ERA in seven starts after his forgettable big league debut, Eflin has done this:
Eflin has not looked good in his last three starts. He has a 13.85 ERA: 13 ip, 22 h, 20 er, 9 bb, 5 k, 6 hr.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 9, 2016
• The Phillies will celebrate their annual Alumni Weekend at Citizens Bank Park when they return home. Jim Thome will be enshrined into the Wall of Fame on Friday. On Saturday, Randy Wolf will retire as a Phillie. And Placido Polanco will follow suit and also retire as a Phillie on Sunday.
Among the Phillies Wall of Famers scheduled to be in town on Friday: Jim Bunning (1984), Steve Carlton (1989), Mike Schmidt (1990), Larry Bowa (1991), Dick Allen (1994), Greg Luzinski (1998), Tony Taylor (2002), Bob Boone (2005), Juan Samuel (2008), Darren Daulton (2010), Mike Lieberthal (2012), Charlie Manuel (2014) and Pat Burrell (2015). Of course Bowa and Samuel have to be there, seeing as they’re on Pete Mackanin’s coaching staff and all.