Phillies-Brewers 5 Things: Phils Aim for a Weekend Split

Phillies (27-29) vs. Brewers (26-30)
1:35 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies on Sunday aim for a win to earn a split of their four-game set with the Brewers. Aaron Nola will be on the mound for the Phils one day after his 23rd birthday. 

Here are five things to know before first pitch:

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1. Salvaging a split?
The weekend series certainly hasn't gone as poorly as the preceding matchups with the Cubs and Nationals. That being said, the Phillies' struggles have continued with two losses to the Brewers.

On Saturday, the Phils were simply unable to sustain their offensive breakout from Friday, scoring three runs in the second inning and then nothing more in a 6-3 defeat (see game story). With little offensive support, the bullpen allowing three runs in the final two innings sealed the team's fate.

A pair of former Phillies prospects have done significant damage in this series and will need to be slowed down if the Phillies want another win over the Brew Crew. Shortstop Jonathan Villar has a home run in each game of the series so far, including a leadoff shot against Jeremy Hellickson on Saturday. Domingo Santana put the Brewers ahead for good on Saturday with a solo shot of his own in the eighth inning.
 
Villar was traded to Houston in the 2010 deal that brought Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia and Santana was dealt to Houston a year later in a package for Hunter Pence.

The man tasked with stopping those two will be the Phillies' young ace.

2. Next up is Nola
The 23-year-old Nola has alternated wins and losses in his last four starts, most recently falling to the Nationals on May 31. However, the lines from each game look remarkably similar. 

Nola has allowed just two earned runs while striking out six batters in his last three starts. The start before, he allowed two runs, only one earned, while striking out nine. Giving up a pair of home runs to both the Nationals and Braves has separated the losses from the wins.

Interestingly enough, the Phillies are 6-0 when Nola doesn't give up a home run in his starts and 0-5 when he allows a long ball. 

In his previous start against the Brewers this season, Nola kept the ball in the park while picking up a win at Miller Park on April 22. The game was one of Nola's best starts of the season. He allowed just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out seven in a 5-2 victory. 

His opponent, Wily Peralta, has been far less impressive this season.

3. Wild Wily Peralta
To put it politely, 2016 has not been kind to Peralta. After pitching near the league average for the first four seasons of his career, including a 17-win 2014 season, Peralta has been one of the worst starters in the entire league this year.

He has given up 85 hits, the most of any pitcher in baseball. Only two qualified pitchers have worse ERAs than Peralta's 6.51 mark. He allows just a hair less than two base runners per inning and gives up 13.5 hits per nine innings pitched. His hit, walk and home run rates are all career-worsts.

However, arguably his best start of the year came against the Phillies. He picked up his first win of the season on April 24 when he gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned) over six innings. Most impressive from that start were his five strikeouts compared to no walks and one hit by pitch. 

He has pitched six innings only once in six starts since that win and has allowed at least six hits and a walk in each game. He has not given up fewer than two runs in any start this season. 

4. Players to Watch
Phillies: It's hard not to be impressed by rookie first baseman Tommy Joseph. He hit his fourth homer, a shot to dead center, on Saturday. That it came against a right-handed pitcher adds to the accomplishment as Joseph tries to keep his spot at first base over Ryan Howard.

Brewers: Jonathan Lucroy had himself a three-hit day on Saturday, including a triple that helped Milwaukee tie the game. Of the 16 franchises that he has at least 100 at-bats against, the Phillies are the team he hits the best, sporting a .357 average against them in 34 career games.

5. This and that
• Howard is 1 for 13 with a walk against Peralta. With Peralta being a righty, Howard could find himself back in the starting lineup on Sunday. Freddy Galvis is 2 for 10 with two walks and Cesar Hernandez is 4 for 10 against Peralta.

• Peralta is 3-2 with a 5.83 ERA in his five career starts against the Phillies. He won his only previous start at Citizens Bank Park.

• The Phillies have not won a series at Citizens Bank Park against the Brewers since a three-game sweep on July 23-25, 2013. All three wins were by 7-6 scores. Milwaukee won all seven games played in Philadelphia in 2014 and 2015.

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