By Sam Bush
So, the All-Star break is over, Manny Machado is now a Dodger and the Phillies are still in first place in the National League East.
Roll that around on your tongue for awhile.
And the Phillies kick the 2018 second half tonight at CPB against the San Diego Padres with Jake Arrieta (7-6, 3.23 ERA) facing Clayton Richard (7-8, 4.43).
The Padres (40-59 and last in the NL West) will be sellers at the deadline, and yesterday they traded All-Star closer Brad Hand and right-handed reliever Adam Cimber to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for promising catching prospect Francisco Mejia.
Hand had 24 saves, a 3.05 ERA and a 13.2 K/9 rate in 41 appearances for the Padres this season. Cimber was 3-5 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.076 WHIP in 42 games.
Tonight’s game will be the first for the Phillies (53-42) since they beat Baltimore on July 4. They enter the weekend with a half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the division — and they have won 30 of 46 home games in the first half.
Padres shortstop Freddy Galvis will be making a homecoming of sorts, returning to Philly for the first time since he was traded to San Diego in the offseason. Galvis spent the first six years of his Major League career with the Phillies and owns a .247 batting average in 1,079 at-bats at Citizens Bank Park.
Galvis and the Padres lineup will be facing Arrieta, who finished the first half on a high note. After struggling in June, Arrieta has posted a 1.89 ERA during his first three starts in July. The former Cy Young Award winner was sharp in his last start, tossing seven scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins last Friday.
“What an incredible performance,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told mlb.com about Arrieta following his last start. “Inducing early weak contact, ground ball after ground ball, double play after double play, never gets fazed by a baserunner, you’re always a ground ball away from getting out of the inning. I thought he did a tremendous job.”
Arrieta is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.087 WHIP in four career starts against San Diego.
Richard, who was Arrieta’s teammate with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and 2016, is looking for his first win since June 22. The lefty picked up a no decision in his latest outing when he gave up two earned runs on six hits and five walks against the Cubs last Friday. Control has been an issue lately for Richard, who has walked 14 batters over his last three starts (17 innings).
Richard is 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA in nine career games against the Phillies.