A lot of phans expected the Phillies to show their dominance against one of the worst teams in baseball and sweep the 3 game series against the Cubbies. But that just wouldn’t be the 2011 Phillies. They have been a team that hasn’t’ been able to sweep teams that often, but they are a team that simply doesn’t lose many series. The Phillies were able to beat the Cubs in the final two games of the series, but their inability to beat the heat prevented them from sweeping those loveably losers. The Phillies have now won 8 straight and 11 of their last 12 series. Tonight the Phillies will start a 4 series with the San Diego that will end on Monday afternoon. The Phillies enter the series 4-0 against the Padres so far this season.
On Monday night, the most well conditioned pitcher in the game dealt with heat exhaustion and dehydration that forced him out of the game in the 5th inning. The Midwest was in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures approaching 100 degree’s and the heat index of well over 110. Sadly it seems that the Phillies have brought that heat east with them as the northeast now finds themselves in the middle of their own heat wave. The current temperature in Philadelphia right now is 101, with a heat index of 115! They enter the series with a MLB best 61-36 record and a 4 game lead over the Atlanta Braves. If the Phillies would end the season with their current winning percentage, they would finish with 102 wins!
Meet the Padres
Besides the heat, the Phightin’s will also have to deal with the Padres this weekend. Last season the Padres were one of the surprise teams in baseball and were in the NL West race until the final weekend of the season. Then in the offseason they traded their slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for a large package of prospects. One of the prospects the Padres received in the deal was 1B Anthony Rizzo. He tore up the minors during the start of the season and earned him a call up in early June. But the 21 year old proved he wasn’t ready for the big leagues and batted just .143 in his time with the Padres. They recently optioned him back to the minors and hopefully they haven’t ruined the confidence of the young kid.
Most experts predicted the Padres to come back to earth this season and that is exactly what has happened. They are currently in 4th place in the NL West with a 44-55 record and are 13 games behind the Giants for the division lead. San Diego is a team that wins with pitching and defense. This is a great strategy for a team that plays its home games in Ball Park as big as the Grand Canyon. The Padres staff enters the series with an ERA of 3.16, which is good enough for 4th best in the majors. Phillies fans have heard a lot about the Padres bullpen over the last few weeks as closer Heath Bell and setup man Mike Adams have been at the center of trade talks. With them at the backend of the pen, they Padres have the best bullpen ERA in the game.
With a shutdown pen and a solid starting staff, you would think that the Padres would be better than 11 games under .500. The Padres lack of an offense has been the main reason for their lackluster record. San Diego is currently 29th in the majors in runs, 29th in batting average and last in homeruns. They currently have just one player who has more than 5 homeruns on the season. Their lineup does feature solid hitters like Ryan Ludwick, Chase Headley and Jason Bartlett but they lack any middle of the order hitters that will put fear in any opposing pitcher.
Friday July 22: LHP Cole Hamels vs. LHP Cory Luebke
For some strange reason Cole Hamels has been different pitcher this season when he has faced the Mets. He has given up more than 4 runs and gone less than 6 innings (he went 4 innings versus BOS but was forced to leave the game due to injury) just twice this season and both of those games were against New York. Even with the poor outing, Hamels has still had an excellent season. Cole is currently 11-5 with a 2.71 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. Tonight he will be facing the team from his hometown. He faced them in San Diego earlier this season and was brilliant in that game. On April 22, he pitched 8 shutout innings while only surrendering 4 hits. He has started 10 career games against the Padres during his career, in those games he is 5-2 with a 2.42 ERA.Current Padres hitters are a combined 24-92(.261) while facing Hamels during their careers.
The Padres will send Cory Luebke to the hill tonight to oppose Hamels. He started the season pitching out of the pen but he has been very good since he was moved into the rotation. The 25 year old has pitched in 33 games (4 starts) and is 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in those games. In his 4 starts this season, he is 2-1 and has given up a combined 4 runs in those starts. But his only 2 road starts this season have been against weak hitting lineups like the Giants and Mariners. Luebke has pitched in 2 games out of the pen against the Phillies; in his 3 innings he has given up 3 hits and hasn’t allowed a run.Current Phillies hitters are a combined 2-8(.250) while facing Luebke during their careers.
Saturday July 23, 4:10: RHP Kyle Kendrick vs. RHP Mat Latos
Kyle Kendrick has been the subject of a lot of criticism from the Philly Phaithful over the last few years, but Krazy K has actually pitched very well this season. Kendrick pitched great in his outing Sunday afternoon versus the Mets; he went 7 innings and only gave up 1 run on 6 hits. The young righty has given up 1 earned run or fewer in 3 of his last 4 starts. Kyle is currently 5-4 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.31 WHIP so far this season. A major reason for his success this season is his new found effectiveness against left handed hitters. This season they are batting just .260 against him, compared to .312 against him last season. He has pitched in 3 games (2 starts) versus the Padres, in those games he is 2-1 with a 5.91 ERA. Current Padres hitters are a combined 5-26(.192) while facing Kendrick during their careers.
Mat Latos was a major factor in the Padres surprise season last year. He won 14 games and had a 2.92 ERA and looked like an ace in the making for San Diego. This season he is far from the pitcher that he was last season. He is currently 5-10 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. A reason for his struggles might be a loss in velocity on his fastball. According to FanGraphs.com, Latos fastball has dropped from 93.7 in 2010 to just 92.5 this season. The Phillies had success against Latos when they faced him earlier this season. He only gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, but control issues (5 walks) limited him to just 4.1 innings. In 3 starts against the Phillies, he is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 9-43(.209) while facing Latos during their careers.
Sunday July 24, 1:35: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Tim Shauffer
Monday night we saw something that we never had seen before, Halladay pitched just 4.1 innings. This was his shortest outing as a Phillie and it snapped his 63 game road start streak of pitching at least 6 innings. In the end, most phans didn’t really care about the result of the game when Halladay walked off the mound. We just hoped that our ace and workhorse pitcher was okay and wasn’t going to miss a lot of time. Doc received treatment and said that he expected to make his next start before he left the park Monday night. He had won his previous 6 decisions and it was his first loss since May. Halladay is 11-4 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.05 WHIP so far this season. He has made 2 career starts against the Padres, in those games he is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA. Current Padres hitters are a combined 17-78(.218) while facing Halladay during their careers.
Tim Stauffer was the 4th overall pick in the 2003 draft and had never really lived up to the hype before this season. The 29 year old had bounced back and forth between the rotation and the pen; this isn’t the type of production you want out of a high draft pick. But this season he has seemed to find some of the magic the Padres thought they were getting in 2003. In 20 starts this season, he is 6-6 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Stauffer has not had any success against the Phillies during his career, in 3 starts he is 0-1 with an 11.15 ERA. Two of those starts came at Citizens Bank Park, in those starts he is 0-2 with a 16.39 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 6-23(.261) while facing Stauffer during their careers.
Monday July 25, 1:05: LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Aaron Harang
Tuesday night’s game didn’t start very well for the Phillies or Cliff Lee. He gave up 3 consecutive hits including a 2-run homerun to Starlin Castro and it left many phans wondering where this horrible Cubs team was. But after this, Lee settled down and shut the Cubs out over his final 5 innings of work. He was pulled in the 7th for a pinch hitter and the Phillies bats gave him a no decision with 4 runs in the final 2 innings. Lee is now 9-6 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.07 WHIP so far this season. He has made 4 career starts versus the Padres, in those games he is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA. Current Padres hitters are a combined 13-49 (.265) while facing Lee during their careers.
The Padres will send veteran right hander and former Cincinnati Red Aaron Harang to the hill for the final game of the series. After posting a 5.32 ERA in his final season with the Reds, he packed his backs and headed to pitch for his hometown team the San Diego Padres. The move out west has been very successful for the 33 year old. So far this season he is 8-2 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Harang has faced the Phillies in 11 regular season games (10 starts), in those games he is 2-2 with a 5.22 ERA. He has pitched in 5 games (4 starts) at the Bank and is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in those games. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 30-98(.306) while facing Harang during their careers.
The Padres are not a horrible team but the heat may be the Phillies toughest opponent over the next few days. This is a team that the Phillies should be able to take care of with general ease, but there are never any easy wins in baseball. Looking at Monday night’s matchup, it looked like it should be an easy win for the best pitcher in baseball but things didn’t go the Phillies way. In baseball, anything could happen. The Padres do posses very good pitching and a few low scoring losses are possible. But the Phillies should be able to take care of business and win their 9th straight series. I predict the Phillies will take 3 of the 4 games in the series.
Brotherly Love Nation Writer