Monday, April 02, 2007
But we’ll start by scoping out tonight’s Phillies – Braves matchup. To my surprise the Phillies send Brett Myers to the mound tonight instead of Cole Hamels, the player I figured that the Phillies would make their Opening Day starter. Expect big things from Myers, whom many are projecting to be a Cy Young Award candidate in the wake of his strong performances at the beginning and end of 2006. He’ll be matched up against John Smoltz, the Braves ancient warhorse and the last player still on the roster from the 1991 World Series team.
Myers will pitch fine in 2007: 12-7 with a 3.91 ERA. Myers had a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, which is tremendous. Myers struck out 23% of the batters he faced and, when he allowed a ball to be put into play, he was more likely to have it be a harmless grounder than anything else: he allowed 46% of the balls put into play to be grounders, compared to the baseball average of 44%. Myers may not be the Phillies best pitcher … I think that honor goes to Cole Hamels, who also had a 3-to-1 K/BB ratio, but also struck out a greater percentage of opposing players – 26% – and improved dramatically as the season wore on … but he’s a sure bet, a veteran of five seasons with the Phillies who has experience. Myers also pitched the Braves well in 2006, going 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in five starts against them, striking out 32 Braves in 33 innings of work.
(The Phillies are slated to send Hamels to the mound on Wednesday to face off with Tim Hudson.)
Smoltz, Myers counterpart, didn’t pitch the Phillies nearly as well, earning no-decisions in his two starts with a 3.86 ERA. Advantage: Phillies.
The Phillie hit the Braves vaunted pitching well in 2006, hitting 23 home runs and scoring 104 runs in 18 games. The Braves, in contrast, hit 28 home runs, but scored just 84 runs because they mustered just a .297 OBP against the Phillies pitching, while the Phillies got on base at a .368 clip. Naturally Ryan Howard hit the Braves well, hitting six home runs with 15 RBIs, as did Jimmy Rollins: 4 home runs, 14 RBIs. Aaron Rowand hit them surprisingly as well, with two home runs and a .348 OBP.
Aside from the departed Adam LaRoche, nobody hit the Phillies pitching well in 2006 on the Braves side, so offensively the Phillies figure to have an edge here as well.
Alright, enough speculation. Play Ball!