The weekend series against the Mariners is a microcosm of the Phillies season, they received the starting pitching to win all 3 games but the bats were not able to score enough runs to put them on top They knew it was going to be a tough series before they left for Seattle and that is exactly what they received over the weekend. Seattle’s great pitching dominated the Phillies bats in two of the 3 games. Thanks to the 4 RBI’s from Victorino on Saturday night, they were able to beat the reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. I think that Charlie should have used the designated hitter to give his regulars a some days off. But Charlie is the type of manager who tries to put his best team on the field as much as he can and has never enjoyed giving his regulars any rest.
Despite dropping the series to the Mariners, the Phillies continue their reign at the top of the baseball ladder. They are currently 45-28 and hold the best record in all of baseball. The Phightin’s have a 4.5 game lead over Braves for 1st in the National League and 1st in the National League East. They have been a much better team at home so far this season as they are 28-12 at home but are just 17-16 in road games. The Phillies will go into the 3 game series with the Cardinals with their “top 3” pitchers in line to pitch in the series. Halladay will pitch the opener, followed by Lee on Wednesday night and then Oswalt will be sent to the mound for the closing game.
Meet the Cardinals
The Cardinals received some horrible news today as they learned Albert Pujols will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a wrist injury. During spring training they also lost their Cy Young caliber pitcher Adam Wainwright for the season due to Tommy John surgery. They enter the 3 game series with a 40-33 record and are tied for 1st in the NL Central with the Brewers.
Even without the bat of arguably the best hitter in the game, they still possess some very good hitters. Outfielders Lance Berkman (will be moved to 1B in Pujols’ absence) and Matt Holiday are both very dangerous hitters and may find themselves in Arizona at the all-star game next month. They enter the series 2nd in the NL in runs and are first in batting average. Their pitching has been solid but it could be significantly better if Wainwright didn’t have his injury. They are currently 9th in the NL with a 3.94 team ERA.
Tuesday June 21, 8:15: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Kevin McClellan
Wednesday night’s game is prime example of why Halladay is the best the pitcher in the game, despite getting squeezed at times by the umpire and not having his best stuff. Doc was able to keep the team in the game and give them seven innings. This allowed the Phillies to stay close enough to tie the game in the 9th and then win it in the 10th. Halladay is now 9-3 on the season with a 2.46 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He has pitched very well over his last 5 starts and is 3-0 in those starts. But in each of those starts he only lasted 7 innings. Now for most if not all pitchers in the game, that would be an excellent stretch for them. But Doc is the type of pitchers who expects to pitch a complete game every time he takes the mound. He has made 2 starts against the Cardinals during his career, in those starts he is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA. Tomorrow night’s game will be the 1st time he will pitch at Busch Stadium during his career. Current Cardinals hitters are a combined 6-19 (.316) while facing Halladay during their careers.
Tomorrow night McClellan will be making his 2nd start since coming off the disabled list. In just five innings on Wednesday night, he gave up 5 runs (3 ER) on 7 hits as the Cards went on to lose 10-0 to the streaking Nationals. The 27 year old righty is now 6-3 with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 11 starts this season. He was moved to the starting rotation after the injury to Wainwright during the spring and has more than held his own. McClellan has pitched in 10 games against the Phillies but will be making his first career start against them tomorrow night. In those games he is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are just 4-29 (.138) while facing McClellan during their careers.
Wednesday June 22, 8:15: LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
Cliff Lee is a pitcher who can go on streaks where he becomes almost unhittable. He did this when he first joined the Phillies in 2009 and against during his postseason run that same year. Over his last 3 starts he is 3-0 and has given up just 1 run in his 24 innings of work. He struck out just 4 hitters in Thursday night’s game but you can’t really complain when he threw a 2 hitter. Clifton is now 7-5 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 15 starts this season. He has made one start against the Cardinals during his career, in that start he lasted just 6.1 innings and gave up 3 runs while receiving the loss. Current Cardinals hitters are a combined 12-50 (.240) while facing Lee during their careers.
The Cardinals will send former Phillie Kyle Lohse to the hill to oppose Lee on Wednesday night. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball through the 1st 2 months of the season; his ERA was just 2.13 after his start on May 29th. In his 3 June starts, he is 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. Lohse has always been a solid pitcher but he was pitching over his head to start the season. The real Kyle Lose is somewhere between the pitcher he was at the start of the season and the one he has been during this month. He is now 7-3 with an impressive 2.88 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 14 starts this season. Lohse has made 8 starts against the Phillies during his career, in those starts he is 2-3 with a 4.00 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are 28-103 (.272) while facing Lohse during their careers.
Thursday June 23, 8:15: RHP Roy Oswalt vs. RHP Chris Carpenter
Roy Oswalt has just not been the same pitcher we saw during the end of last season. I think that his back injury is bothering him than he or the Phillies will admit. His fastball just doesn’t have the same zip that it did last season when he was able to throw the ball by the hitters. Over his last 3 starts, he hasn’t gone more than 7 innings and has given up at least 3 runs in each game. It’s not like he has been horrible so far this season, but he hasn’t lived up to the performances of his fellow aces. Country Roy is now 4-5 with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in his 12 starts this season. Having pitched for the Astros and in the NL Central for most of his career, he has faced the Cards in 29 games (28 starts). In those games he is 9-8 with a 3.15 ERA. He has made 8 starts at Busch Stadium and is just 1-3 despite a 2.98 ERA in those games. Current Cardinals hitters are a combined 31-99 (.330) while facing Oswalt during their careers.
Carpenter has been a Cy Young caliber pitcher for the last few years and along with Wainwright gave St. Louis a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. In 2009 Carpenter failed to win the Cy Young despite his 2.24 ERA and last season he posted a respectable 3.22 ERA. But it seems like the Cards have not only lost one great pitcher, they have lost 2. Carpenter is just 1-7 with a 4.47 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in his 15 starts this season. He has made 9 starts against the Phillies during his career, in those starts he is 5-2 despite a 5.08 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are 6-37 (.162) while facing Carpenter during their careers.
You never want to see players get hurt but the injury to Pujols should make this series a little easier for the Phillies. He is arguably the best hitter in the game and will be impossible to replace. But even without their slugging 1B, the Cards still have a very formidable lineup and will send 3 solid pitchers to the hill during the 3 game series. Ryan Howard will return to his hometown where he has had a lot success during his career. He has driven in 31 runs in just 24 games at Busch Stadium. The Phightin’s have not been a great road team so far this season and they will face a very good team this series. But with the Phillies “top 3” pitchers pitching this series; I think they will win the series. The Cards will take one of the games in a hard fought game but the Phillies will take the other two games to win the series.