The Phillies will finish up the 3 game series tonight against the Braves as they try to take the rubber match. They will play on ESPN’s Sunday night baseball for the 2nd week in a row and hopefully they will have a lot more success this time around. It should be a pitcher’s duel with Jurrjens and Hamels on the mound for the two teams. Being able to win the rubber game of a big series like this could be the difference in the division. After tonight’s game the Phillies will head to Miami to take on the 2nd place Florida Marlins in a 3 game series starting tomorrow night.
The Marlins have had a great start to the season but have struggled over the last few days. Going into today’s game, the Marlins 19-13 and are in 2nd place in the NL East. But they have now lost 3 games in a row and are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. They played the Phillies tough in the team’s only meeting of the season in early April in Philadelphia. The Marlins took the 1st game of the series due to a clutch 2 run go ahead pinch hit single by former Phillie Greg Dobbs. After a rainout on Saturday night, the Phillies were able to salvage a game with a victory on Sunday. This will be a big series for the Marlins to see if they are able to continue their hot start and see how they do after a brief losing streak.
Phillies Raul Ibanez
Raul will be making a home coming this week when the Phillies head to Miami. He was born in New York but he attended high school and college in Miami. It seems like most players do very well when they go home and Raul is no exception. In 46 games against the Fish, he has 7 homeruns and 34 RBI’s while batting .327. His numbers at Sun Life Stadium just as good, in 21 games he has 5 homeruns and 17 RBI’s while batting .317. Raul has had a lot of success against two of the 3 starting pitchers during the series. He is a combined 14-38 (.368) against Vazquez and Nolasco.
Marlins Chris Coghlan
The former rookie of the year and newly converted centerfielder has been the thorn in the side of the Phillies pitchers during his brief career. In 24 games against the Phillies, he is batting .348 with two homeruns and 11 RBI’s. He has spent most of the season at the top of the Marlins order and has spent some time hitting leadoff. With the dominance the Phillies pitchers can have, the men at the top of the lineup become even more important. He must get on base for the middle of the order.
Monday May 9th 7:10: RHP Joe Blanton vs. RHP Javier Vazquez
It looks like Blanton’s short disabled list stint will end tomorrow night as he is the probable pitcher for the game. He will come off disabled list after missing just 2 starts. Prior to his injury, Blanton had seemed to fix his mechanical problem and look like the pitcher we saw during the 2nd have of last season. During his last two starts, he went 7 innings in both and only gave up 2 runs in each game. He will enter his start tomorrow night with a 0-1 record and a 5.92 ERA. Joe has had a lot of success against the Fish during his career; he has made 8 starts against them and is 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA. Current Marlins hitters are 20-75(.267) lifetime against Joe.
The season has not gone the way of the 34 year old Vazquez, many thought he would regain his 09’form when he came back to the National league. He will enter tomorrow night’s game with a 2-2 record and a 6.39 ERA. Despite the high ERA, Vazquez has been able to keep his team in the game for all but of his starts and the Marlins are 4-2 in his 6 starts. He received a no decision in his start earlier in the season against the Phillies; he went 5 innings and gave up 3 runs. During his long career, he has made 29 starts against the Phillies. In those starts he is 12-8 with a 4.30 ERA. Current Phillie hitters are 57-177 (.322) against Vazquez
Tuesday May 10th 7:10: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Josh Johnson
If you can watch one game of this series, it should be this game. Josh Johnson has been the best pitcher in the NL so far this season and Doc has been his usual brilliant self early in the season. Doc is coming off a solid start in his last outing despite having a high pitch count early in the game. In the end he was able to go 7 innings and only gave up 2 runs on route to a Phillies 7-3 win. Halladay is now 5-1 on the season with a 2.19 ERA. He has had 7 career starts versus the Marlins and has had a lot of success. In those starts he is 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA. As a Phillie, his numbers are even better. In 5 starts he is 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA. Current Florida hitters are 22-79 (.278) against Doc during their career.
Josh Johnson has had a brilliant start the season and is one of the best pitchers in the game. I think he is the most underrated pitcher in baseball and is one of the top 5 starters in MLB. Johnson has electric stuff, his fastball sits in the mid 90’s and touches the upper 90’s. He also throws a devastating slider and also mixes in a curveball and a changeup at times. Johnson gave up 5 runs in his last start and it ballooned his ERA from 0.88 to 1.68. Prior to his last start, he gave up just 4 earned runs in his 1st 6 starts. Johnson is now 3-1 with a 1.68 ERA on the season. In 13 career starts versus the Phillies, he is 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA. Current Phillie hitters are now 38-145 (.262) against Johnson.
Wednesday May 11th 7:10 LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco
Lee will be coming off of one of the most dominating performances I have ever seen a losing pitcher have. After he gave up 3 quick runs in the 3rd, Lee settled down and completely shut the door on the Atlanta hitters the rest of the way. He was able to strike out 16 hitters in just 7 innings! Lee tied Lefty for the team’s record for most strikeouts in a game by a left-handed pitcher. His performance will get forgotten quickly because of the offenses inability to score him any runs. He has gotten the Cole Hamels treatment of last year as he has received very little run support so far this season. In his last 3 starts, the offense has scored just 1 total run for him. Lee is now 2-3 with a 3.69 ERA on the season. Lee has made just 2 starts against the Fish in his career. In those starts, he is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA. Current Florida hitters have had a lot of success against him; they are 15-37(.405) lifetime against him.
The Phillies didn’t have to face Nolasco earlier in the season, they haven’t faced him since last April when he pitched a complete game 5 hitter and only gave up 1 run. The 28 year old right hander has had a solid start to the season so far. He is 3-0 with a 3.23 ERA. In his 7 starts so far this season, he has gone at least 6 innings and given up 3 earned runs or fewer in 6 of them. Nolasco has faced the Phillies in 12 games (9 starts), he is now 6-3 with a 3.78 ERA in those games. Current Phillie hitters have not had a lot of success against Nolasco in their career; they are just 30-131 (.229) lifetime against him.
The Phillies tough schedule continues as they head to Miami to face the marlins. Going into today’s game, they hold a 3 game lead on the Marlins and will be in 1st place as they head south. Tuesday night’s game looks to be a pitcher’s duel as two of the game’s best square off. But those games always turn out to be a high scoring game for some reason. The Marlins will send their 2 best starters to the hill in the 2nd and 3rd games of the series, but the good news for the Phillies is they will do the same. It should be a hard fought series between two of the best teams in the National League so far this season, so a sweep would be hard to do by either side. My prediction for the series is the Phillies will win another series as they will take 2 of the 3 games.