The Phillies come home after having a successful road trip going 5-2 despite losing two of the final 3 games. They were able to get great pitching in the Padres series and the bats started to come alive at the end of the series in Arizona. After being shutout and only getting 3 hits in the 1st game, they were able to score 13 runs on 24 hits in the final 2 games of the series. The hitting turnaround has to be taken with a grain of salt because they were playing in a hitter’s park and facing the team with the highest ERA in baseball. But regardless of the circumstances, it can only be seen as a positive to see Howard and Rollins starting to swing the bat well.
Today the Phillies announced that SP Joe Blanton is headed to the 15 day DL due to medial impingement of the right elbow. The move is retroactive to April 24 and the hope is that Blanton won’t need a lot of time to recover. Vance Worley is being called up from Lehigh to take his place on the roster and in the rotation. He will pitch tomorrow against the Mets and will be on his normal rest since he pitched for the Iron Pigs on Sunday. The team elected to go with Worley over Kendrick because Kendrick has pitched well out of the pen and Worley is stretched out. Amaro also announced to today that Ruiz will not be headed to the DL and that they expect Oswalt to make his next scheduled start on Tuesday. Even though Ruiz won’t go on the DL, it is still unknown if he will be available this weekend. It has been reported that Dane Sardinha will join the Phillies tomorrow morning but the move hasn’t been made official by the Phillies yet.
The Phillies will welcome in that annoying neighbor to our north as the Mets come into town for 3 games starting tomorrow night. Earlier in the season, they were able to take 2 of the 3 games from the Mets. The series seemed to send the Mets into a tailspin that they are now just starting to get out of. After winning the opening game of the series against the Phillies, they went on to lose 12 of their next 14 games and owned the worst record in all of baseball. The streaking Mets than went on to win their next six games before losing tonight against the Nationals. They are currently 11-14 and are 5.5 games behind the 1st place Phillies.
Phillies Ryan Howard
Howard has looked completely lost at times early this season. His individual struggles have been amplified because of the overall hitting woes of the team. Howard does have the same amount of hits as he does strikeouts. But when you look at his overall numbers on the year, they don’t really look that bad. He is second in the NL in RBI’s and is hitting .291, which is higher than his career average. Howard was able to break his homerless streak with a solo shot in yesterday’s game and hopefully he can catch fire by coming back home. He has a lot of success against tomorrow’s starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey as he is batting .406 with 2 homeruns in 32 at bats. Ryan is a tremendously talented player but when things are bad they are really bad. He is going to put up his numbers and it is just a matter of time before he catches fire.
Mets Jose Reyes
I picked Reyes as the key player in the last series and I will again for this series. Reyes is one of the most talented players in baseball but he doesn’t always play that way. His ego and seemingly hour long dances after a 1st inning homerun have limited his impact throughout his career. But when he gets on base, he causes a lot of trouble for Phillies pitchers. He has never faced Lee or Worley but he is 10-22 lifetime against Halladay. Over the last few years, people have said “The Phillies go as Rollins goes” and perhaps you could say the same thing about Reyes for the Mets. He has stolen 22 bases and scored 42 runs in his 54 career games at the Bank.
Friday April 29 7:05: Vance Worley RHP vs. Mike Pelfrey RHP
Worley is getting the call replacing injured Joe Blanton and will make his third career start tomorrow night. Besides having the best birthday (September 25), he has pitched very well in his brief time in the big leagues. In his last start last October against the Braves he went 5 innings giving up only 1 hit and 0 runs. During his career, he has pitched 13 innings in the majors and has a 1.38 ERA. His only appearance against the Mets was in a 7-3 loss last September where he pitched a scoreless inning while only walking one batter. Reyes is the only current Met to have faced him and he went hitless in that at bat. Worley mainly throws a fastball that sits in the low 90’s and a slider. He also throws a changeup and curveball but doesn’t use them very often. The reality with Worley is that he is not going to be a top of the rotation pitcher, but the Phillies have plenty of them. He will give you quality innings and provide the Phillies with a inexpensive option for a 5th starter.
Pelfrey got off to a hot start last season but he has been unable to find any of that early season magic so far this season. He is currently 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA but had a successful outing in his last start where he went 7 innings, only giving up 1 run against the Diamondbacks. Saying Pelfrey struggles at Citizens Bank Park is like saying Reyes is a showboat. In 6 starts, he is 1-2 with a horrendous 9.55 ERA. His start earlier this season against the Phillies followed that exact trend. He went just 2 innings giving up 7 runs (6 earned) on 8 hits. Pelfrey was spared the loss due to a poor performance by Phillies starter Joe Blanton. He has gotten hit hard in his career by Howard, Ibanez and Victorino; they are a combined 34-98 (.349) against him. Look for Charlie to insert Pete Orr at 2nd base as he is 4-6 lifetime against the righty, while Valdez is 0-7 against him.
Saturday April 30 1:10: RHP Roy Halladay vs. LHP Jon Niese
Roy Halladay came one out shy of a complete game in his last start. He is now 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA through 5 April starts. It will be interesting to see how he will respond to the 130 pitches he was forced to throw against he Padres. Doc has been great against the Mets, in 9 starts he is 7-2 with a 3.43 ERA. As a Phillie he is even better, in 5 starts he is 5-0 and has given up just 9 runs in 38.2 innings! Reyes and Josh Thole are a combined 17-34 (.500) off of Doc, while Beltran and Wright are just 4-33 (.121).
Niese is just 1-3 but has lowered his ERA from 6.88 to 5.10 in his last 2 starts. Like Pelfrey he is coming off a solid start against Arizona. He went 7 innings giving up 2 earned runs on 6 hits. Niese has pitched well during his career against the Phillies, in 4 starts he is 1-2 with a 3.96 Era. His numbers at the Bank are similar, in 3 starts he is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA. However he has already been matched up against Halladay this season and didn’t fair very well. He went just 4 innings giving up 6 runs en route to an 11-0 Phillies victory. Lefties Howard and Ibanez are just 3-17 (.176) against him, while Polanco, Ruiz, Valdez, Francisco, and Victorino are a combined 15-45 (.333) when facing him.
Sunday May 1 8:05: LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Chris Young
Lee has had an up and down season so far in his return to the team he always belonged to. He is just 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA but he has pitched brilliant at times. In his last start he struck out 12 Diamondback hitters but he gave up 4 runs and received the loss. Even though it seems like he has been a Phillie for a long time, he has just made one start against the Mets. In that start he received the win and went 7 innings giving up just 2 runs. New York hitters are 4-13 (.307) against Lee. I would expect Lee to have a solid performance as the game will be ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and he seems to pitch better when the pressure is on.
The Mets have yet to formally say who will be starting on Sunday Night, but I’m going to assume it will be Tuesday’s starter Chris Young. He has made just 3 starts this season due to a DL stink but has pitched very well in them. The 6-10 righty is 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA so far this season. His only win of the season came against the Phillies on April 5th. He pitched 5.1 innings while giving up just 1 run on 5 hits. Young has made 6 starts against the Phillies and is 3-2 with a 4.05 ERA. He has made 4 starts at Citizens Bank Park; he is 2-1 with a 5.31 ERA. It is hard to know whether his performance against the Phillies on April 5 was a fluke or if he has regained some of the form he had while he was in San Diego.
The Mets come to town playing great baseball and it will no doubt be an exciting series. Two of the 3 games will be Nationally Televised Games and it would be great to see the Phillies show all of baseball that the Mets are an inferior team to them. This is something that we all know but it would be great to embarrass them on national TV! With the way the Phillies have been swinging the bats and the Mets impressive play of late, I think the Phillies will take 2 of the 3 games against the Mets. The Phillies seem to hold the advantage in the matchups but the game of baseball is very tricky and a 3 game sweep against a division opponent is never an easy task.