Today the Phillies sent their ace to the hill to do what aces should do. Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball and he showed why he gets that title today. After he gave up a 1st inning homerun, Doc shut the Pirates out the rest of the way. It was a game that was almost a must win for the Phillies as it would have been a complete embarrassment to get swept by the Pirates. For some unknown reason, they just don’t’ play good baseball when they head out to western Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh. In the few years that PNC Park has been in existence, they are now just 13-22 while playing there.
“Not to take away anything from (the Pirates); obviously they’ve been playing pretty well lately. But I think we feel like these are games we need to win, and at some point you kind of get over that and get things rolling. ” Halladay said. “I’m sure this is a lot of weight off of everybody.”
They have been able to have their everyday lineup in just one game this season and it looks like that number might stay there for a few weeks. Rollins was still limping after the game today and it looks similar to the Victorino situation from a few weeks ago. He might be headed for the DL and we might get to see Phan Phavorite Pete Orr get another chance with the big club. Or they might just continue their game of yo yo with outfielder John Mayberry and bring him back to Philly.
The Phillies now head home after a disappointing road trip. Despite playing 3 of the worst teams in the National League, they finished the 9 game trips just 4-5. They might need to send the Brewers a fruit basket, as they were able to sweep the 4 game series against the Marlins. They gave the Phillies a little more breathing room despite the Phillies losing the series to the Bucs. The Phillies are now 35-24 and have the best record in all of baseball. They are 3 games ahead of the Marlins, 3.5 ahead of the Braves and 9 games ahead of Jayson Werth’s Nationals. The Phillies have played better baseball when they have been at home this season. They are now 19-10 at home and just 16-14 on the road. Hopefully they will be able to continue that success as they start an 11 game stand against the Dodgers tomorrow night.
The Dodgers play has dropped off significantly since their back to back NLCS defeats. A major reason was the messy divorce of owner Frank McCourt; it has been a huge off the field distraction for everyone in the organization. This has also led to McCourt struggling to be able to pay his bills and forced MLB to take temporary control of the team. They are currently tied for 3rd in the NL West and are 5.5 games behind the first place Giants. The Phillies catch a fortunate break as they will miss the Dodgers young ace Clayton Kershaw during the 3 game series. Despite their poor record, they still have some very good young players. Andre Ethier had the highly publicized hitting streak early in the season and CF Matt Kemp is one of the best OF in baseball. Phan Phavorite Jonathan Broxton will not get a chance to implode during the series as he has been on the DL since early May.
Monday June 6, 7:05: LHP Cliff Lee vs. LHP Ted Lilly
Lee’s return to the Phillies has had its fair share of trouble and his last start was a prime example of it. He gave up 6 runs on 7 hits while he lasted just 5.1 innings on route to a 10-2 Nationals rout. Cliff is now 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. But things are not as bad as they might appear. Lee currently has the 3rd highest BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) in baseball at .339. He was third in all of baseball in FIP (Fielding Independent Performance) before his last start and he still 7th in the NL despite his poor start on Tuesday night. This would suggest that he has given up a lot of weak hits and eventually his BABIP will come down to around .300. The reason for Lee’s slow start has more to do with bad luck than poor pitching.
Lee has made one career regular season start versus the Dodgers, he went 7.1 innings and only gave up 1 run on 7 hits while earning the victory. He also made a start against them in the 2009 NLCS. In that game he pitched 8 shutout innings before giving the ball to Lidge. Current Dodgers hitters are just 6-50 (.120) against Lee during their careers.
Lilly was acquired by the Dodgers from the Cubs at last season’s trade deadline. He hasn’t had a great start to the season but has really settled down over his last few starts. Lilly has given up just 6 combined runs over his last 3 outings. The 35 year old lefty is 4-4 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. His last start against the Phillies was last July while he was still pitching for the Cubs. He received a no decision despite giving up just 3 runs in 7 innings. Lilly has made 6 starts against the Phillies during his career, in those starts he is 1-4 with a 5.91 ERA. He has made 3 starts at the Bank during his career, in those starts he is 1-2 with a 7.16 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are 23-90 (.256) against Lilly during their careers.
Tuesday June 7, 7:05: RHP Roy Oswalt vs. RHP Rubby De La Rosa
Roy Oswalt has been at the heart of the Phillies lack of offense. He should have a lot more wins on the season if would have got a little more run support He is 0-2 over his last 4 starts despite giving up a combined 5 runs in those games. On Wednesday he was lifted really early as Charlie sent Dom in to pinch hit for him. It would have worked out perfectly except Lance Nix made the catch of his career taking a possible win away from the Phillies and Oswalt. He is now 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP on the season. Oswalt has not gotten a win since April 15th, but that is mainly due to his absence and lack of run support than it is bad pitching on his part. He has pitched in 12 games (11 starts) against the Dodgers, in those games he is 8-3 with a 2.84 ERA. Current Dodgers hitters are 17-100 (.170) against Oswalt during their careers.
The Dodgers will send 21 year old Rubby De La Rosa to the hill on Tuesday night to make his first career start. He has pitched in 3 games out of the pen for the Dodgers and has had some success. In 5 innings, De La Rosa has given up just 1 run on 3 hits while striking out 5. In his 8 starts at AA this season, he is 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA. Baseball America ranked the young righty as the 3rd best prospect in the teams system. According to the scouting report they provide, his fastball sits around 95-96 but he has been clocked as high as 102. He also has a slider and a changeup but both pitches need some work. They project De La Rosa to be a number 2 starter or a closer in the Majors. Keith Law of ESPN.com ranked him as the 94th best prospect in baseball coming into the season.
Wednesday June 8, 7:05: LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
Hamels was brilliant once again in his start on Friday night as he gave up just 1 hit in 8 innings. But the Phillies bats were not able to get him the win as they eventually lost 2-1 in extra innings. Cole is now 7-2 with a 2.83 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. His FIP is 2.46, which is 3rd in all of baseball behind Halladay and Weaver. The Phillies are now 9-3 as a team in the 12 games Hamels as started this season. Hamels has made 4 starts versus the Dodgers during his career, in those starts he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. His last regular season start against the Dodgers came in June of 2009; he pitched a complete game shutout as the Phillies won the game 3-0. Current Dodgers hitters are 16-68 (.235) against Hamels during their careers.
Hiroki Kuroda has been a very dependable pitcher for the Dodgers over the last 4 years. The 36 year old righty from Japan has won 33 games and has a 3.58 ERA during his 3+ seasons with the Dodgers. So far this season, he is 5-6 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. In 4 regular season starts against the Phillies, he is 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA. In a start against the Phillies last August; he only gave up 1 hit in 7.2 innings. His last start at The Bank was in game 3 of the 2009 NLCS. Kuroda gave up 6 runs in just 1.1 innings as the Phillies and Cliff Lee routed the Dodgers to take a 2-1 series lead. Current Phillies hitters are 4-52 (.077) against Kuroda during the regular season in their careers.
The Phillies couldn’t be happier to get out of Pittsburgh and finally return home after a long and unsuccessful road trip. They struggled during the trip despite playing subpar teams and playing in stadiums that were taken over by the Philly Phaithful. The amount of red in the stands in New York, Washington and Pittsburgh was staggering. Tomorrow night the Phillies will welcome our good friend from the 2008 and 2009 postseason into town for a 3 game series. It’s amazing how your dislike for a team is subdued when you have a lot of success against them. I predict the Phillies will take 2 of the 3 games.