Opposite Dugout: Rebuilding Phillies have surprised in early going

PhilliesLogo.jpgManager: Gabe Kapler (1st season)

Record: 23-16

Last 10 games: 7-3

Who to watch: 3B Maikel Franco (7 HR, 28 RBIs), LF Rhys Hoskins (5 HR, 25 RBIs), CF Odúbel Herrara (.360, 24 RBIs),1B Carlos Santana (7 HR, 27 RBIs), RHP Nick Pivetta (2-2, 4.15 ERA), RHP Héctor Neris (8 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (1-3 in 2015)

Pitching probables:

May 15: RHP Nick Pivetta (2-2) vs. Andrew Cashner (1-4), 7:05 p.m., MASN2
May 16: RHP: Vince Velasquez (3-4) vs.TBA, 12:35 p.m. MASN

Inside the Phillies:

The City of Brotherly Love has taken the sports world by storm to start 2018. The Eagles knocked off Tom Brady with a backup quarterback and secured the Lombardi Trophy, Villanova coasted to a men’s basketball national championship, the Flyers squeaked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the 76ers trusted the process and returned to the postseason for the first time in years. Back on the baseball diamond, the Phillies are headed in the right direction. With a young core and a first-year manager in Gabe Kapler, fans have been in for quite a treat. The Phillies have won five of their last six games and trail the National League East-leading Braves by 1 1/2 games.

Odúbel Herrara has taken his game to another level this year. Only three players in Phillies history have had longer on-base streaks than Herrera’s current binge of 41 games, and two of them, Mike Schmidt and Chuck Klein, are enshrined in Cooperstown. The 26-year old center fielder is lighting up the NL with a league-leading .360 average. Left fielder Rhys Hoskins has been struggling severely after his great start to the season. He carried the Phillies offense through the first month of the year, posting .346/.495/.603 with four home runs and 19 RBIs through April 27. Despite a slow start to the season, first baseman Carlos Santana has been hitting dingers over the past nine games. Santana has crushed five homers over that span and is hitting .324/.342/.892. over the past week and a half.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta (2-2, 4.15) will face the O’s for the first time in his career tonight. Pivetta got the win in his last outing on May 9 against the Giants when he threw five scoreless innings with four hits, seven strikeouts and zero walks. Vince Velasquez was throwing smoke versus San Francisco after delivering 12 strikeouts in his last start on May 10, and the right-hander has won two straight decisions after starting the season with a 1-4 record. He’ll draw the Wednesday afternoon assignment.

Héctor Neris started the season as the team’s closer. However, his subpar recent performance has opened the door for Edubray Ramos, who posted his first save of the season Sunday against the Mets.

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