Phillies-Red Sox 5 Things: Struggling Eickhoff Tries to Solve Phils' Road Woes | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Phillies-Red Sox 5 Things: Struggling Eickhoff Tries to Solve Phils' Road Woes

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    Phillies-Red Sox 5 Things: Struggling Eickhoff Tries to Solve Phils' Road Woes
    CSNPhilly.com
    Phillies-Red Sox 5 things: Struggling Eickhoff tries to solve Phils' road woes

    Phillies (21-40) at Red Sox (34-28)
    Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

    Losers of five straight, the Phillies travel to Boston for the first two games of a home-and-home interleague split with the Red Sox.

    Here are five things to watch for:

    1. Shipping up to Boston
    The Phillies will mercifully round out a nine-game road trip in Boston Tuesday. The Phils are just 2-5 on the trip so far and it doesn't get any easier in Boston. The Red Sox have the fifth-best home record in baseball (19-11). The Phillies have the worst road record in baseball (9-26). You do the math.

    During the Phils' five-game losing streak, they have scored just nine runs, while giving up 33. During a brief four-game win streak to start June, it looked as though the Phillies were turning a corner. Not so. There is hope though as the Phillies return home for an eight-game homestand Wednesday.

    2. Sophomore slump
    What's up with Jerad Eickhoff? After a dominant first full season in 2016, Eickhoff has been among the Phillies' biggest disappointments in 2017. In 12 starts this season, Eickhoff's ERA has jumped to 5.15 - up from 3.65 last season - and is averaging just 5 1/3 innings per start (down from 6 innings in 2016). 

    The culprit seems to be Eickhoff's vanishing control. The righty's walks per nine innings are way up this year, from 1.9 in 2016 to 3.5 this season. The good news is that Eickhoff has actually been better on the road than at home this season. Eickhoff is allowing half a run fewer on the road this year (4.89 ERA), while going more than a full inning deeper into the game (5.8 innings). That's the good news.

    3. Scouting the Red Sox
    The bad news is Eickhoff is going up against the Red Sox, who have the fewest strikeouts in MLB (428) and boast the third best on-base percentage in MLB (.339).

    Eickhoff has pitched once at Fenway before, during a September call-up in 2015. He went four innings, allowing six runs and three extra-base hits. And that's when the Red Sox lost 84 games. 

    Now the Red Sox are soundly in second place in the AL East and are on pace for another playoff appearance this season. With Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi - arguably three of the 10 best players under 25-years-old in MLB - the Red Sox should only get better in the years to come. But in the present, the Red Sox can still rake. Bogaerts is hitting .325 on the season, Betts finished second behind Mike Trout in MVP voting in 2016 and Benintendi was the top prospect in all of baseball before the season. The Phillies will get a good glimpse at a successful rebuild this week.

    4. Players to watch
    Red Sox:
    Coming off an MVP-caliber season, Mookie Betts is having somewhat of a down year. Although he's hitting just .265 so far, Betts is still producing, with nine home runs and 33 RBIs this year. The third-year centerfield also has more walks (30) than strikeouts (24), something no Phillies' everyday starter has done this year. 

    Phillies: Daniel Nava is in line to get more playing time with Michael Saunders' struggles (see story). And with the DH position in play tonight, Nava should get a chance to play his former team. Nava has slashed .313/434/.926, albeit in limited playing time this year. But those numbers are enough to warrant a longer look at Nava in the outfield.

    5. This and that
    • Last year's Cy Young winner Rick Porcello takes the mound for the Red Sox tonight. He's come back down to earth this season, posting a 4.46 ERA and allowing more than one home run per start.

    • The Phillies have lost 35 of their last 45 road games and have been outscored, 254-164, during that span.

    • Kyle Kendrick started two games for the Red Sox in May before being quickly shuttled down to Triple A. The former Phillie game up 12 runs in 8 1/3 innings for an ERA of 12.96.