Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Series Preview: Phillies @ Braves

If you had told me the Braves would be above .500 a little over 20 games into the season, I wouldn't be shocked. We're a good team with a good pitching staff and our hitting has dramatically improved. If you'd told me that Philadelphia would be a game under .500 at this point with 40 less runs scored than the Braves? That would have shocked me. It still shocks me how bad Philly is hitting these days. Philly is currently 4th in the division, 25th in runs scored in the MLB, but 6th in team ERA. Their pitching staff is their usual lights out selves, but their bats are colder than a well-digger's ass. That's one of my grandfather's sayings. Thanks Papaw!

Game 1: Hamels v. Beachy
Game 2: Halladay v. Hanson
Game 3: Blanton v. Delgado

Hamels is 3-1 on the year with a 2.73 ERA, below his career 3.38. He's a strikeout machine with a 10-1 K/BB rate. He is fully capable of going 7-8 Innings due to his pitch economy and low ERA. Only two guys on the team really fair well against him: Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. Conversely, Uggla and Heyward have struggled to get any production going against Cole in their careers. I think we need to place Chipper in the 3rd spot behind Bourn and Prado if we expect to get anything done against Hamels. If we spread them out, their hits may be useless unless they get out of the stadium. From Beachy's perspective, he is pitching about as well as he's ever pitched in his life. Seven innings would be great against a bad Phillies lineup, and he also has a favorable walk/K rate right now. Two guys we have to watch out for in this game are Carlos Ruiz (who is batting .313 and rakes Beachy), and Shane Victorino who is notoriously pesky against us. Winning this game would be a steal given how spot-on Hamels has been so far.

Halladay and Hanson is a matchup of Aces. Halladay is 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA, but he's coming off two losses to the Cubs and Padres because the Phillies couldn't muster more than 1 run. Hanson is pretty close to his career ERA with a 3.00, and also a 3-2 record. He's managed to win his last two outings and is looking for a third. The good news is that nobody really hits Tommy well on the Phillies. Even better news is that Bourn, Freeman, Chipper, and Uggla have a 1.000+ OPS against Halladay. That's your on-base percentage plus your slugging percentage for those that don't know. It's a great indicator of who is producing run-scoring opportunities against a given pitcher. I think this game sets up for us to get a win if Tommy can control his fastball and go deep in the game.

Blanton and Delgado probably comes down to whomever has the worst bad inning. Blanton gives up a ton of hits (26 in his last 3 starts). Bourn, Diaz, Freeman, Chipper, Bmac, and Marteeen all know how to hit this guy well. The question is whether or not they can string the hits together since Blanton will not walk many people. He will throw strikes and dare you to hit it. Delgado, for those of you paying attention, is on my "until further notice" list. As in, I dislike you until further notice. He doesn't go deep into games, barely ever gets over 5 innings, and he's sporting a disgusting 6.30 ERA right now. What really drives me nuts is that he walks people. 12 walks in 4 starts is not going to make me stand up and cheer for you as a starter, especially when we have a better guy in Medlen waiting in the bullpen. It won't be long before you see Delgado back in AAA unless he can figure out how to throw strikes and keep the ball down. Our advantage in this game is that most of the Phillies don't have many ABs against Delgado, while we have a lot of history against Blanton. In a battle of known v. unknown when the team facing the unknown is struggling at the plate? Just get it to Meds, Everyday-Johnny and the K-Crab in the bullpen, and we can win this game.

Let's go 2-1 on this homestand an send the Phillies back to that crappy city they call home.

Go Braves!

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