The visiting Philadelphia Phillies will shoot for a four-game series sweep Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and while the game counts the same as all others, thoughts might be aimed ahead.
The series finale is also the final game for both clubs before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline, and that has a different meaning for each.
The Phillies, who are heavily in the running for a playoff spot, are more on the side of being buyers. In fact, they made a move on Saturday, acquiring shortstop Edmundo Sosa from St. Louis for left-handed reliever JoJo Romero.
There was no indication whether Sosa might be available Sunday, but the Phillies will have to clear a roster spot for him.
That might not be it for Philadelphia. Veteran Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins is hoping president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski keeps upgrading.
“You know who’s running the show,” Hoskins said. “You know what he’s done in the past. He likes to add. I feel like we’ve done enough to be in this thing, and that adding someone makes sense. I’m sure you can go in a number of directions.
“Any time you’re in position when you’re adding, you’re gaining good players, you’re getting good players that other teams want, you’re going to get better. Getting better for meaningful games down the stretch — what more could you ask for?”
The Pirates, well off the playoff pace, are seeking something different. They look to be sellers as they continue to stockpile prospects and young talent after already working in such players a good bit this season.
Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington has stopped short of using the term “rebuilding,” but he’s clear on the idea of developing players, whether they are brought in at the deadline, already playing with the Pirates or playing at Triple-A Indianapolis.
“It’s fair to say, trades or no trades, (we’re) probably likely to see some changes,” Cherington said of the Pirates’ roster. “We just want to create some opportunity for some guys that are in Indy now, so we’ll see how that plays out.”
While the trade watch continues, the teams, who are both off Monday, still have a game to play.
Philadelphia nearly blew an eight-run lead in the series opener before hanging on for an 8-7 win, then won back-to-back 10-inning games, 4-2 and 2-1.
In the series finale, Philadelphia right-hander Aaron Nola (6-8, 3.32 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (2-8, 3.96).
Nola’s numbers are mostly top-notch — including 144 strikeouts vs. 17 walks — but the Phillies have struggled to provide run support.
Nola is 3-2 with a 4.14 ERA in six career starts against the Pirates.
Brubaker is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA over his past six starts, going at least six innings in five of them. That includes Monday, when he gave up two runs in six innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. He took a no-decision as the Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs 3-2.
Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Brubaker’s only career appearance against the Phillies. He gave up one run in six innings, with four strikeouts and two walks, but did not get a decision.
–Field Level Media