Phillies (21-42) vs. Red Sox (36-28)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App
Two more interleague losses, two more L's in Boston, two more one-run defeats.
The typical Phillies themes continued early this week, and now the home-and-home series shifts to Citizens Bank Park.
1. The slimmest of margins
The Phillies have lost three straight games by one run. They're 9-15 this season in one-run games, while no other club in the majors has more than 11 one-run losses.
It just furthers the frustration felt by Pete Mackanin. The Phillies had ample opportunity to win one or both games in Boston, but instead the result was them falling short yet again to a better team.
At 21-42, the Phillies are on a 108-loss pace. And quite frankly, there's no realistic end in sight to their consistent losing. These seven straight losses directly followed a four-game winning streak. And even when they start playing better, it's not as if the Phillies are going to start winning five or six games every week. Instead, they'll spend most of the season 20-plus games under .500, which is not how practically anyone around these parts foresaw 2017 going.
2. Hellickson's trade value dead?
Remember the good ol' days when Jeremy Hellickson was pitching well enough to be one of the most attractive starting pitchers on the trade market? That was last summer and this April. At this point, it's doubtful the Phillies get much of anything in return for him if they trade him.
Hellickson is 5-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts. He still has a relatively low WHIP of 1.25 but he continues to allow too many back-breaking home runs.
When April ended, Hellickson had a 1.80 ERA and had allowed just two home runs in five starts.
Since May 1, he has a 6.43 ERA and has given up 12 home runs in eight starts. His opponents have hit .297 with a .970 OPS. Collectively, his last eight opponents have hit like 2017 Miguel Sano or Kris Bryant.
This is a tough matchup for Hellickson but at least it's in an NL park without the DH. He's faced the Red Sox 14 times in his career because of his time in the AL East, but because Boston's lineup is so young, only Dustin Pedroia has extensive experience against him.
Pedroia is 7 for 34 (.206) off Hellickson. Mitch Moreland is 4 for 7 with a home run and three walks. Mookie Betts is 2 for 2. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are a combined 3 for 12 with six strikeouts, a surprisingly high number against the contact-oriented Hellickson.
3. Franco watch
Maikel Franco had his best night in months, going 4 for 5 with a double and a walk last night. Two of the hits were rockets off the Green Monster.
Broken record alert, but the Phillies desperately need Franco to get going. He had played 31 straight games without reaching base three times until doing it each of the last two nights. The guy has six RBIs since May 5.
Franco is hitting .227/.280/.360 on the season but has a chance to improve those numbers tonight against a rather mediocre left-hander.
4. The book on Johnson
The Phillies face 6-foot-4, 26-year-old southpaw Brian Johnson. Through three starts this season he's 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA.
Johnson has been a big pitching prospect for the Red Sox since they drafted him in the first round in 2012, and accordingly his name has been thrown around in many a trade rumor. There have been questions about his upside, though, and his numbers in 15 starts at Triple A last season - 4.09 ERA, 6.3 strikeouts per nine, 4.2 walks - did little to allay those concerns.
Johnson is not a hard thrower. His fastball averages just 88 mph and he's thrown it 57 percent of the time this season. He also has a mid-70s curveball and a slider. His opponents have hit .302 with four home runs in 43 at-bats ending in a fastball.
He pumps lefties with fastballs but uses his curve on the first pitch to righties more than one-third of the time.
5. This and that
• Michael Saunders is hitting .200 with a .608 OPS. The DFA watch is on.
• No DH for the Red Sox means no Hanley Ramirez the next two days.
• What a ridiculous season Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is having - 0.91 ERA, 18 saves in 19 chances, 13 baserunners in 29⅔ with 57 strikeouts and five walks. Kimbrel has a chance to go down as one of the best relievers in major-league history. He has a 1.80 ERA in 440 career appearances and his opponents have hit .152. He's struck out 42 percent of the nearly 1,700 hitters he's faced.