This is the kind of numbers we thought this rotation could accomplish when Lee was signed during the offseason. Today Halladay came within one out of the complete game and helped the Phillies sweep the 4 games series in San Diego. The Phillies have now won 11 straight games at Petco Park. The Phillies pitchers pitched a total of 38 innings during the 4 games series and only gave up 3 runs.Doc was able to rebound in a big way after a poor start against the Brewers last Tuesday night. He struck out 6 Padres hitters at one stretch of the game, and when Charlie finally lifted him in the 9th, he had recorded 14 strikeouts.
“I felt good, even at the end I felt good. It was one of those days where, especially through the middle innings, there weren’t a lot of high-stress pitches, and I think that plays a part into it, especially being able to throw more pitches.” Halladay said “If you’re doing it with the bases loaded every inning, it takes a different toll.”
Doc was forced to throw a MLB season high 130 pitches and it seemed as though Charlie really wanted him to finish the game. After the game we learned just why, Madson was unavailable because he pitched the previous day and we learned that Jose Contreras was headed to the DL with a right flexor pronator strain. He is flying back to Philadelphia and a MRI might be necessary. It is an injury that could be minor but could also be very serious. The full extent of the injury will not be known until a MRI is taken. It has already been announced that Madson will assume the closing duties for now. But there is perhaps good news to the Contreras injury, young reliever and spring training star Michael Stutes will get his chance in the big leagues. In 10 games for the Iron Pigs, Stutes has a 1.80 ERA.
The Phillies now head to Arizona for 3 games before they head home. Arizona is coming off of a 3 game sweep at hands of the New York Mets and have lost 4 games in a row. They will head into the series with an 8-12 record, which is good enough for 4th place in the NL West. The Diamondbacks due feature a solid lineup but simply don’t have the pitching good enough to compete. They entered today’s play with a team ERA of 5.19, which is the worst in baseball. Arizona also plays in a hitter’s friendly park where the ball seems to carry very well to the outfield. The poor pitching that the D-Backs possess, along with Chase Field should be a good opportunity for the Phillies bats to wake up!
Phillies Raul Ibanez
The struggles of #29 have become a focus of a lot of the Phillies Phans but I believe the criticism of Ibanez is well deserved. He was given the day off today and it was much needed for the 38 year old LF. He is batting .187 with just one home run on the season. Many thought Ibanez would have a bounce back year after a strong spring but that has not been the case so far. But there is some good news for Raul. He will get to play 3 games in a ball park where he has had a lot of success. In 10 games at Chase Field, he is batting .367 with 2 homers and an OPS of 1.120. Raul is also has homered once in 3 at bats against tomorrow’s starting pitcher Ian Kennedy
Diamondbacks Justin Upton
Upton is Arizona’s best hitter and is the verge of becoming one of the best hitters in baseball. At just 23 the right handed hitting right fielder has already posted some very good numbers. Upton will get his chance to hit lefties in two of the games. He has never faced Lee but he is 4-9 lifetime against Wednesday’s starter Cole Hamels. Upton has also had success against the Phillies during his young career, in 12 games he is batting .359 with 2 homeruns.
Monday April 25 9:40: Cliff Lee LHP vs. Ian Kennedy RHP
Cliff Lee is coming off of a no decision on Wednesday afternoon against the Brewers. He is now 2-1 on the season with a 3.91 ERA and has pitched well in 3 of his 4 starts so far in 2011. Since he has spent most of his career pitching in the American League, he has not faced the Diamondbacks that often. Lee has made 2 starts versus Arizona and is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA (none of the starts where at Chase Field). The only D-Back hitter to have any success against him is utility man Willie Bloomquist who is 6-17 lifetime versus Lee. Without Bloomquist, current Arizona hitters are just 2-21 lifetime against Lee.
The 26 year old Right-hander was the opening day starter for Arizona but has done very little to deserve that honor. Kennedy, who was a former Yankees prospect, has just 12 career wins and a career 4.43 ERA. Despite his solid 2-1 record this season, he has 5.64 ERA. But he does have some success in his brief experience against the Phillies. His only start against the Phillies came last April at Chase Field. He was able to pitch 8 strong innings only giving up 2 runs and 4 hits. But he received a no decision due to a strong start by former Phillie Nelson Figueroa. The Phillies went on to the win the game 3-2. Phillie hitters do not have a lot of at bats against Kennedy. They have just 5 hits in 24 at bats against the young right hander.
Tuesday April 26 9:40: Roy Oswalt RHP vs. Daniel Hudson RHP
Oswalt was able to pitch very well on Thursday night despite a possible ailing back. While he pitched fantastic he didn’t seem to be 100% just yet after he had to leave his previous start. His fastball seemed to be missing a few MPH and Oswalt ran very cautiously when he was forced to run during his at bats. But he was still able to completely dominate the struggling Padres lineup. Oswalt pitched 7 innings; he didn’t give up a run and only allowed 1 hit before he was pulled due to a high pitch count. Roy has had a lot of success against Arizona during his career. He has made 12 starts against them and is 9-2 with a 1.91 ERA. Roy has struggled in comparison at the hitter friendly Chase Field, in 4 starts he is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA. Current D-Back hitters are a combined 22-89 (.247) lifetime against Roy.
Hudson had an amazing start to his Diamondback career at the end of the season last year. In 11 starts he was 7-1 with an amazing 1.69 ERA. But the 23 year old righty has not been able to carry that momentum into the 2011 season. He will enter his 5th start of the season getting the loss in his first four starts. He is 0-4 with a 5.92 ERA. Hudson has only made 20 career starts and none of them were against the Phillies. Polanco is the only current Phillies hitter to have faced Hudson; he has 0 hits in 3 at bats against him. According to FanGraphs.com, Hudson throws a fastball in the low to mid 90’s, a slider and a change-up.
Wednesday April 27, 3:40: Cole Hamels LHP vs. Joe Saunders LHP
There are some players who crumble when booed and there are others who thrive under the booing. Hamels looks like he is know the player who uses it as motivation. After he was unnecessarily booed after his poor start against the Mets, he is 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA in 3 starts. He has struck 22 while only giving up 15 hits in 22 innings during those 3 games. Cole has made 5 starts against the Diamondbacks during his career; he is 2-1 with a respectable 3.69 ERA. 3 of those starts have came at Chase Field, where his is 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA. Current Arizona hitters are a combined 20 for 84 (.238) against Hamels.
Like most of the Arizona pitching staff, Saunders has not had a great start to the season. He is 0-2 with a 4.98 ERA, but he is coming off a very good start in his last outing. Despite only giving up 1 run and 2 hits in 6 innings, he received a no decision on Friday against the Mets. Saunders is the veteran of the pitching staff and has the most career starts of anyone on the rotation. But the majority of Saunders career was spent in the American League pitching for the Angels. He has made just 2 starts versus the Phillies and he is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Current Phillie hitters are a combined 19 for 57 (.333) in their career’s against Saunders. Ben Francisco has hit him the best, as is 4 for 8 lifetime versus the lefty.
The Phillies are coming off of a 4 game sweep of the Padres despite the bats remaining cold throughout the series. They were able to get dominate starting pitching, along with some timely hitting to get the series sweep. If there is any time the Phillies bats will be able to catch fire, it is against Diamondback pitchers at Chase Field. With the bullpen ailing, it will be very important for the Starters to go deep into the games. But if the lineup is able to score a lot of runs and give the team big league. It would give Charlie a chance to pitch some guys he doesn’t trust in close games and maybe give Stutes a chance to show us what he can do. Despite dominating the pitching matchups, I still don’t see them sweeping Arizona. The Phillies are just 3-2 this year in series that I predicted a sweep, so I am going to say that the inexperienced pen might give up a late lead the Phillies will take two of three from Arizona.