Thursday night’s game was one of the most frustrating regular season games I have witnessed over the last few years. The Phillies took a 3 run lead into the rain delay and then barely seemed to show up when the game resumed about an hour later. It wasn’t the fact that they lost the game; it was how they lost the game. But the great news with this team is there is always the next day and 4/5 of the time, there will be an ace waiting to take the ball. The following 3 days were filled with the dominating starting pitching that this team possesses. Halladay, Lee and Oswalt went 3-0 and gave up a combined 4 runs in their 22 inning of work. Their great performances allowed the Phightin’s to take 3 of the 4 games from the Cubs.
The Phillies are now 40-26 and have the best record in all of baseball. Their lead in the National League East has been cut to 2.5 games, the 2nd place Braves had won 6 games in a row before losing tonight and have won 7 of their last 10. The Phillies now have the exact same record as they did after 66 games as they did in 2008 and we all know how that great season ended! While the dominate starting pitching may have been the reason for the series win, the most exciting results from the Cubs series was the play of Chase. He Phinally has started to swing the bat the way we all know he can and his running catch to end the game yesterday can only be summed up in 6 words, “Chase Utley, You are the Man!!!”HK
The Fish come into town reeling, they have now lost 3 in a row and have 1 win in their last 10 games. They are now just 32-33 and are 7.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. Many people were surprised by the hot start by the young Florida team and thought their downfall was just a matter of time. But I don’t think you should be shoving dirt on this talented team just yet. They have been without their best offensive player Hanley Ramirez for the last couple of weeks and their ace Josh Johnson has been on the DL for nearly a month. Ramirez is expected to be active for the series and Josh Johnson should be back in the next few weeks. The Fish are still full of very talented young players like Mike Stanton, Gabby Sanchez and Logan Morrison. Even without Johnson, they still have solid young pitchers in Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. And maybe the most telling ingredient in this team is the solid bullpen they have this season.
Tuesday June 14, 7:05: LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Chris Volstad
Cole Hamels is slowly becoming one of the best pitchers in the game. The young lefty is T3rd in wins, 8th in strikeouts, 4th in WHIP and 8th in ERA. He was brilliant during his last start as he went 8 innings and didn’t give up a run while scattering 6 hits. The scary part about the game is in his last start his curveball looked great. If he continues to improve his curveball, he could become borderline unhittable at times. Cole is now 8-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 0.95 WHIP through 13 starts. He has made 16 careers starts versus the Marlins during his career, in those starts he is just 4-7 with a 3.65 ERA. In 7 home starts this season, he is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA. Current Marlins hitters are a combined 38-138 (.275) while facing Hamels during their careers.
The former 2005 first round pick hasn’t had a successful start to his young career. He has 29-32 on his career with a 4.62 ERA. Volstad started the season 2-1 through his first 4 starts despite a 5.32 ERA. After those starts, he has now gone 8 without a win, has lost 5 of them and hasn’t earned a victory since April 26. But he has been solid over his last 2 as he has gone 6+ and has allowed just 3 runs in both of them. Volstad is now 2-6 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP on the season. In 10 starts against the Phillies, he is 2-3 with a 4.45 ERA. He has had similar results at the Bank during his career, in 5 starts he is 2-0 with a 5.11 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 57-156 (.365) while facing Volstad during their careers.
Wednesday June 15, 1:05: RHP Kyle Kendrick vs. TBA
Phans will be able to experience one of the greatest things sports have to offer on Wednesday, a double header! Kendrick will pitch the early game on Wednesday and hopefully he can continue the success he had before the rain delay ended his outing on Thursday night. He gave up just 2 hits and struck out 2 in his 3 innings of work. Krazy K is now 3-4 with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP on the season. Wednesday could be his last start as it looks like Worley will take a turn in the rotation on Saturday. But Kendrick has done a great job for the team so far this season. His ERA, WHIP and BAA are below his career average and he seemed to be getting comfortable pitching out of the pen. He has pitched in 13 games (8 starts) versus the Fish during his career, in those games he is 5-2 with a 5.36 ERA. Current Marlins hitters are a combined 18-48(.375) while facing Kendrick during their careers.
The Marlins have yet to announce who will pitch against Kendrick. Sanchez will pitch one of the games, but they will have to go to the minors to find a starter since they don’t have the luxury of having today off. According to the Phillies website, Sanchez will start the night game against Halladay and they will likely call someone up to face Kendrick.
Wednesday June 15, 7:05: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez
If it was possible to make a double header any more enjoyable for those who love baseball, Doc will be pitching the nap cap! Though is not a surprise to any way who has ever watched him pitch, he has been the best pitcher in baseball so far this season. Halladay leads the majors in wins and innings pitched, is 2nd in strikeouts and 5th in ERA. The two time and reigning Cy Young winner in the National League is well only his way to winning another one. He is now 9-3 with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP on the season. Doc has pitched well against the Marlins, but he never seems to get the run support from his teammates. In 8 starts against the Fish during his career he is 4-3 with a 2.13 ERA.
The Fish will send their most reliable and consistent starter this season to the hill to oppose Halladay on Wednesday. Anibal Sanchez is now 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP through 13 starts this season. He has been able to lower his ERA over the last 2 seasons and looks like he will do it for a third straight season. Sanchez has made 12 starts versus the Phillies during his career, in those games he is 3-7 with a 5.65 ERA. The 27 year old righty hasn’t had a lot of success while pitching at the Bank during his career. In 8 starts he is 1-5 with a 7.85 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 51-162 (.315) while facing Sanchez during their careers.
Thursday June 15, 1:05: LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Javier Vasquez
Over his last 2 starts Clifton has been the pitcher we all thought we were getting. In those two games, he is 2-0 and has only allowed 1 run in 15 innings while also striking out 17 batters. Lee is one of the best pitchers in the game and over the course of the season he is going to put up great numbers. He is now 6-5 with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a MLB best 107 strikeouts through 14 starts this season. Lee has been almost unhittable while pitching at home this season. In 8 home starts this season, he is 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA. In 3 starts against The Fish during his career, he is 1-0 with 4.24 ERA. Current Marlins hitters are a combined 24-81(.296) while facing Lee during their careers.
Many experts thought that Vazquez would be helped by the switch back the NL and would be closer to the pitcher he was with the Braves in 2009 than he was last season with the Yankees. Sadly for the Marlins, he is having the worst season as his career and it looks like the 34 year old is at the end of his career. Vasquez is now 3-6 with a 7.09 ERA and 1.65 WHIP through 13 starts this season. His time might be running out as the Marlins could elect to drop him from the rotation if and when Josh Johnson returns. Vasquez has already faced the Phillies twice this season, in those 2 games he is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. He has spent a large chunk of his career in the National League East while pitching for the Expos, Braves and now the Marlins and he has made 30 starts against the Phillies. In those games he is 12-9 with a 4.44 ERA. He has made 5 starts at Citizens Bank Park and hasn’t had a lot of success, in those games he is 1-2 with a 5.97 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 67-202 (.332) while facing Vasquez during their careers.
It seems as though the Phillies play the Marlins at the right time as they have had a lot of trouble winning games over the last week. They need to not let the young Marlins team gain any confidence early in the series and hopefully that would propel them to a successful series. The Phillies are now 5-2 on their 11 game home stand and play 4 with the Fish before they head out to the Pacific Northwest to play 3 against a much improved Mariners team. The Phillies have the edge in the pitching matchups and are playing better baseball than the Fish right now. I predict the Phillies will take 3 of the 4 games.