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Roundtable: Inside the Phillies and Cubs Writers Discuss Upcoming Series

The Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs square off in a three-game series starting Tuesday. The staffs from Inside the Phillies and Cubs discuss what they expect from each side.

With the upcoming series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs slated to begin on Tuesday, we thought it prudent to conduct a roundtable discussion. 

Both staffs from Inside the Phillies and Cubs sat down and chatted about what they expect from each team and the implications this series holds. 

Here's what they had to say:

Kade Kistner (Publisher): Alright guys, let’s get this started. Coming from the Phillies' side first, what do you guys think about the current situation and what this series means for the club?

Alex Carr (Phillies): It’s an absolutely huge series, especially given the two team’s last meeting.

Ben Silver (Phillies): Well, looking at Leo [Morgenstern]'s most recent article, it's evident the Phillies need to take two of three from a weaker team. If the Phillies win two of three, they would only need to win four of seven against the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros to clinch a playoff spot, unless the Milwaukee Brewers win out.

Lauren Amour (Phillies): With the Phillies magic number being at eight, I think this series is incredibly important. The Brewers will be taking on the St. Louis Cardinals for two games starting on Tuesday, so it's crucial that the Phillies are able to capitalize against a "weaker" opponent, while Milwaukee takes on a team a bit more challenging.

Leo Morgenstern (Phillies): This series will be the Phillies’ best chance to get some wins and build a lead over the Brewers. They have Wheeler, Nola, and Suárez slated to start, which should give them a really good opportunity to win the series (or even sweep!) The Nats series will be a little harder given the starting pitchers lined up and the doubleheader on Sunday.

Ben: I just realized you were talking about the last series, but the Atlanta Braves are a good team. They're clearly better rounded than the Phillies right now and the Phillies should be satisfied with two of four wins and two close games. That said, they should be wanting more, and I would be disappointed in them if they're satisfied with themselves right now.

Alex: Yeah, if they drop any of their next seven games, things start to get dire. It’s great that they’ve dominated the Nationals this season, but they definitely can’t say the same about the Cubs. That makes this series pretty crucial.

Kade: Payton, how are you feeling about the Cubs having to face the heart of the Phillies rotation?

Payton Havermann (Cubs): Well from a pure win/loss perspective, I don’t think anyone—even the Cubs front office—really cares. But, what is really important is getting at-bats for guys like Zach McKinstry, Esteban Quiroz, Franmil Reyes and many others who are on the roster bubble for next season. Facing the heart of the Phillies rotation could be a really good test for who they want to keep.

Leo: Those are some great points. No one should write this series off as an easy victory for the Phillies. The Cubs have some good starters to throw at them, and their young players have plenty to prove. 

Ben: Aside from the bullpen, I actually think Chicago has gotten better as the season as gone along. There's a lot of depth that's come up, especially in the rotation.

Alex: Yeah that’s a good point, the Cubs have really only gotten better since the last time the Phillies saw them. Their only significant “sell off” at the deadline was David Robertson.

Ben: Don't forget Scott Effross and Mychal Givens.

Alex: Ah, that’s true, though I’m pretty sure they’re better off without Givens! 

Ben: It does seem like it Alex!

Lauren: I think playing on the road is in the Phillies' favor though. As previously mentioned, Philadelphia was swept by the Cubs at home following the All-Star break. They played particularly well at Wrigley Field in 2021 (Brad Miller three-homer game, anyone?) So, I think I like their chances this time around. 

And yes, I know Brad Miller isn't on the team anymore.

But. . .

Alex: Oh man, that’s so true. So many recent iconic moments for the Phillies at Wrigley.

Ben: Don't forget J.T. Realmuto's 10th inning home run there in 2019.

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Kade: Speaking of playing on the road, I was just about to say that despite a rebuilding year, the Cubs still have the ninth-highest attendance rate in MLB.

Philadelphia? 16th. So, they won't be playing in front of an empty stadium on this road trip.

Ben: Well having a small ballpark and a large market certainly helps. But their season ticket holder base is very high. When a team wins a championship, they get about six to seven years of leeway from fans. We saw it in 2013 and 2014 when the Phillies drew 37k per game and 30k per game, respectively.

In 2022, they've only drawn 28k per game.

Alex: Something else that could factor in too: Nick Castellanos briefly *briefly* called Wrigley home for a bit. He could be back soon.

Leo: I’m sure Schwarber will enjoy playing back in Wrigley too. Could help him stay hot! 

Alex: Yup. Great point.

Lauren: Coming off of another multi-homer game too for Schwarber!

Leo: Payton, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Hayden Wesneski, it seems like he could cause some real trouble for the Phillies.

Payton: I expect the Cubs to struggle in this series to be honest. I don’t think such a depleted lineup will be able to put anything together against the top of the Phillies rotation. The main thing to watch will be Wesneski, like you said Leo. Wesneski has been wildly exciting thus far and maybe the brightest part of the month of September. It’ll be nice to see him get a test against a pretty good lineup.

Ben: I'm interested to see Darick Hall get recalled from Lehigh Valley once their season is over. I'd imagine they'll want to keep him fresh for the playoffs and he'll probably see at least one start over Rhys Hoskins and maybe one over Harper in the final two series.

Kade: Indeed! Would also be nice to see Harper get out of his funk. Hopefully in Chicago!

I am also hoping to see some of these young guys in Chicago continue to prove themselves against elite level pitching. It would be a huge step for them come the 2023 MLB season when their window of contention will be starting to creak open.

Leo: I was just going to say the same thing Kade. Nothing is more important for this team. And hopefully Wheeler can continue to prove he’s back and fully healthy.

Alex: Yeah, Wheeler throwing another solid start with clear velocity return would be big for both the Phillies’ regular and postseason hopes.

Ben: Agreed, Vierling has started to hit the ball really well and just missed a walkoff home run on sunday. He's a player to watch, slashing .340/.340/.426 since Sept 7. It will be interesting to monitor his playing time once if/when Castellanos returns.

Payton: I will say, Stroman and Wesneski are slotted to go this series and each have been very solid in the second half. So this would be a tougher series to get Harper going, but Stroman has been prone to hard contact from time to time and Wesneski is obviously unproven. Should be interesting to watch.

Lauren: I think Stroman has pretty decent career numbers against Philly as well.

My final thought is that I believe the young guys will continue to step it up for Philadelphia this week.

Alex: I think, at the end of the day, we’re all Marlins fans this week!

Kade: Interesting indeed! Two historic teams going at it to help round off a very wild 2022. Thanks everyone!

For more Cubs coverage head over to Inside the Cubs!

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