After taking four games of a long five-game series from the Washington Nationals, the Philadelphia Phillies open a quick two-game set against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Arlington, Texas.
The Phillies are one of the hottest teams in the major leagues, having won 14 of 17 since Rob Thomson replaced Joe Girardi as manager.
But the Phillies will be running into a hot pitcher Tuesday. Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (4-2, 2.10 ERA) will be on the mound, while the Phillies counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-2, 4.04).
Perez's ERA is sixth best in baseball and fourth in the American League. In seven home starts, he is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA as the Rangers return home after a four-game split against the Detroit Tigers.
Against the Phillies, Perez is 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in seven appearances (six starts).
The Phillies enter the series with some uncertainty regarding Bryce Harper. The reigning National League MVP did not play against the Nationals on Saturday and Sunday due to a blister issue on his left hand.
"We're going to take (Monday) and see where I'm at, (and) go from there," Harper said. "I've had many blisters on my hands, but never an infection on my hand like this."
Harper has only played against Texas five times in his career, and is hitting .150 with one extra-base hit (a double) in 20 at-bats.
For Texas, Perez does not have a decision in three June starts. In his most recent outing Thursday, he gave up one run in seven innings against the Tigers. It came after he was tagged for a season-high, seven runs (six earned) in five innings at the Chicago White Sox.
The Rangers' offense has received a boost since rookie Ezequiel Duran stepped in at third base. The 23-year-old is hitting .291 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his 14 career games.
"He's amazing," Perez said. "He's not just like 23-year-olds, he's on another level."
For the Phillies, Gibson has plenty of familiarity with the Rangers.
The right-hander was with Texas in 2020 and part of 2021, where he had an 8-9 record and a 3.79 ERA over 31 starts.
The 34-year-old was dealt by Texas on July 30, 2021, as part of a deal that also sent Ian Kennedy, Hans Crouse and cash to the Phillies for Spencer Howard, Josh Gessner and Kevin Gowdy.
In his career, Gibson has made seven starts against the Rangers, going 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA.
In his most recent start Wednesday, Gibson gave up one earned run with six strikeouts and no walks in a no-decision against the Miami Marlins.
Phillies outfielder/designated hitter Nick Castellanos, who played in parts of seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers, has appeared in 32 games against the Rangers. He has batted .282 against Texas with a .771 OPS, two home runs and 11 RBIs.
Against Perez, Castellanos is batting .500 (6-for-12) with a home run and two doubles.
Rangers shortstop Corey Seager, who hit his 15th home run in Sunday's loss, has a .298 batting average, .398 on-base percentage and .512 slugging percentage the Phillies. The left-handed hitting shortstop also has hit four homers and six doubles in 23 games versus Philadelphia.
-- Field Level Media