Friday, May 18, 2007
The Blue Jays stumble into this series not in particularly good shape. They currently sit in third place, their usual accustomed spot in the A.L. East, but they need to be wary about the vastly improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the better-than-I-thought Baltimore Orioles. It is a same that J.P. Riccardi hasn’t succeeded in breaking into the playoffs up there in Toronto. He’s done a nice job and has final gotten some cash to spend, but you just get that feeling that the Blue Jays are going to be held hostage to the Red Sox – Yankees hegemony. Too bad.
The Blue Jays are swinging a decent bat at the moment, hitting a .165 ISO (.148 league average), but they are hitting poorly with runners in scoring position (.251, vs. the league average of .262) and aren’t getting on-base (just a .325 OBP). Defensively they are playing well: .718 DER, .020 better than the A.L. average, but their pitching is below-average, a surprise on a team boasting A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay. Actually, the differences between Halladay and Burnett are interesting: while Burnett has a better ERA – 3.99 to 4.37 – Halladay has the better FIP, 3.14 to 5.36 … Halladay is over a run better in terms of ERA to FIP, while Burnett is over a run worse! Neither Halladay nor Burnett will be pitching this weekend, so the Phillies are going to be facing-off with second-tier pitching. Ought to be a good weekend for Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley...
It will be an interesting series to watch and I think that the Phillies matchup well. Very well. I guess we’ll see …
An interesting note … The Phillies have caught some bad breaks and the Atlanta Braves have been a little lucky thus far this season. At the moment the Phillies sit five games behind the Braves in the N.L. East chase:
New York Mets: 26-14
Atlanta Braves: 25-16
Philadelphia Phillies: 20-21
Florida Marlins: 18-23
Washington Nationals: 15-26
If you adjust for Pythagorean Win-Loss records, you’ll see that the gap between the Braves and Phillies isn’t so big:
New York Mets: 25-14
Atlanta Braves: 22-18
Philadelphia Phillies: 22-18
Florida Marlins: 19-22
Washington Nationals: 13-27
The Braves have a +21 run differential, while the Phillies are at +16. Not such a big difference between the two. Speaking of which … anyone notice how terrible the St. Louis Cardinals are playing? They are really, really terrible. Their -48 run differential was third-worst in the N.L., just one ahead of the Rockies. The only team worse is the Nats at -63. Ouch!
Enjoy the weekend!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Last night's game was a spectacular showcase of Cole Hamels talents. His masterful control over his pitches and his confidence were on full display last night as he utterly blanked the Brewers for six whole innings. In the end Hamels settled for two hits and a walk in eight innings. He had eleven strikeouts to just one walk. So far this season he has seventy strikeouts. If he keeps up his current pace and hurls 200-230 innings, Hamels will have 220-260 strikeouts this season. Not too shabby at all.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let's just concentrate on the team getting to 21-20 ...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
-Nice walk-off trot from Carlos Ruiz. Lots of energy! Nice hit to close out the game. This is the reason why the Phillies are so high on him...
-Hmm, Phillies won without that Howard guy again. They are 4-1 since he hit that grand slam on May 9 against the D-backs. Nice to see that your team isn't reliant on a single player.
-Okay, so Brett Myers blew his first save. The fact remains that he’s been pitching very well in relief:
Starter / Relief
ERA: 9.39 / 1.08
WHIP: 1.56 / 1.29
HR/9: 2.93 / 0.54
BB/9: 5.28 / 2.70
K/9: 11.11 / 12.96
In fact, last night was just the second earned run Myers has allowed since becoming a relief pitcher. I think the Phillies have finally gotten some stability in the pen and have the ability to close a game out. I do understand that not many people would agree with my argument after last evening, but I think the proof is in the numbers.
-Lots in the drama of the finish obscured the fact that Adam Eaton had a very strong outing, allowing just one earned run – the home run to Prince Fielder in the eighth inning – while shutting the Brewers powerful attack down, allowing just four hits and two walks last night. Eaton should be commended for how he’s been turning himself around of late on the mound. He’s doing a great job.
Eaton’s performance illustrates how misleading those pitcher win-loss records can be … Since defeating the San Francisco Giants 9-7 on the third – a game in which he “won” despite allowing six runs in five innings – Eaton has given up five earned runs in fourteen and two-thirds innings, in a pair of outings that ended with a 3-2 loss to the D-backs and a no-decision last night. As a result of the last two outings, Eaton’s ERA has declined a run and a half.
Tonight, Cole Hamels vs. Jeff Suppan as both teams send their aces to the mound. The Phillies are playing with a little momentum right now and look poised to continue tonight. Hamels has a clear edge over the finesse-oriented Suppan. With the Brewers swinging aggressively for the fences, expect to see Cole Hamels wrack up a lot of strikeouts this evening. And expect to see the Phillies even up at 20-20.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Pat Burrell is on a roll. Thirty-three games and one home run, then three in the last four? Whoa!
Nice to see Wes Helms actually contribute for once. Keep it up, Wes!
Chris Coste is back in Philly! Thank goodness.
Oh, and it was nice to see that the Phillies can win without Ryan Howard in the lineup.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Now the Milwaukee Brewers come to town. The Brewers, in case you haven't been paying attention, are 25-12 and sit seven games ahead of the Houston Astros and Cubs atop the N.L. Central. Since sweeping a two-game series on April 18 & 19 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Brewers had gone 17-4 before dropping two of three to the Mets. This series will say a lot about the Brewers and how strong they really are.
A lot is going right for the Brew crew right now. The Brewers are scoring 5.03 runs per game, third in the N.L. after the Mets and Phillies. The Brewers aren't hitting well in the clutch (.247 BA/RISP, vs. .257 league average), they aren't getting on bases particularly well (.337 OBP is .007 better than the league average), but they are mashing the ball at the plate. The Brewers led the N.L. in slugging percentage and isolated power. Their .182 ISO is something we'd expect to see the Phillies (.162) post.
While the Brewers are playing pedestrian defense (their DER is just .002 better than the league average), their team ERA is very good. Jeff Suppan is 5-3 with a 3.00 ERA and Chris Capuano is 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA. Along with Ben Sheets and David Bush, this is a darn good pitching staff, one of the best in the N.L., in fact, something that was utterly unheralded at the start of the season. It is largely because of this good pitching that the Brewers are running three games ahead of their pythagorean win-loss record, partly a product of being 10-5 in games decided by two or less runs, pretty much the same record the Braves (12-6) have in close games.
Tonight, Jamie Moyer goes for the Phillies. You can always count on Jamie Moyer to get a win.