Phillies to test recent surge vs. AL-best Rays

Phillies to test recent surge vs. AL-best Rays


The Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays are riding dueling rollercoasters as they meet in a three-game series that opens Tuesday afternoon at St. Petersburg, Fla

Since the 2008 World Series when the Phillies beat Tampa Bay in five games, the Rays have won 12 of 19 games between the two East Division clubs in opposing leagues, including the past seven matchups

After a miserable start that left them seven games under .500 on June 2, the Phillies have been racing toward wild-card contention in the National League

Despite losing 5-4 Sunday to the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia was spurred by an 18-8 mark in June after winning just 10 of 26 in May.

The battle in the NL East is overwhelming. The Atlanta Braves have the best record in baseball, but Philadelphia’s hot June has manager Rob Thomson’s group close behind the second-place Miami Marlins.

However, their upswing wobbled a bit over the weekend when they dropped two of three at home to the Nationals.

On Sunday, the Phillies‘ Nick Castellanos was named an NL All-Star for the second time, having also been one in 2021 during his final season with the Cincinnati Reds

After enduring a down first season with the Phillies, the South Florida native is hitting .316 with 50 runs scored, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs to nearly equal last year’s run production

“Last year, I wasn’t comfortable or relaxed in any part of my surroundings,” Castellanos said. “Also, building relationships with my co-workers, the city, the media. You know? I didn’t really have a grasp on all of it. I’m somebody that everything (needs to be) connected.”

In the series opener, Aaron Nola (7-5, 4.51 ERA) will pitch for the third time in his career against the Rays. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.72 ERA in his previous two starts against the Rays

Tampa Bay went 3-3 in its recent road trip against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners after splitting a six-game homestand against the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals.

The American League East leaders have posted a 6-8 record since June 17 but managed to hold a comfortable edge over the second-place Orioles. They have been passed by the Atlanta Braves for best record in baseball.

Former Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin will be on the mound for the Rays to start a week-long homestand, that also includes a visit from the Braves

Eflin (9-3, 3.29) will make his 16th start in a breakout 2023 campaign and will appear for the first time ever against the club he was on for seven seasons when he compiled a 36-45 record with a 4.49 ERA.

The presence of Eflin, 29, has grown in importance as the staff, which was the backbone of a season-opening 13-game winning streak, has diminished into a shell of itself after the club went 22-6 in April.

Though former ace Tyler Glasnow is back from an oblique injury, front-end rotation starters Jeffrey Springs (Tommy John surgery) and Drew Rasmussen (elbow flexor strain) are out indefinitely.

Ace Shane McClanahan (mid-back tightness) was named an AL All-Star on Sunday but likely will not pitch in the game. He and fellow lefty starter Josh Fleming (elbow) are on the injured list.

“I’m speechless,” said McClanahan of his second AL All-Star nod. “This is one of those things you dream about as a kid. For it to happen again, I’m truly honored.”

–Field Level Media


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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.