Friday, July 27, 2012

Phillies @ Braves: Series Preview

Uh oh, the Phillies are back in town! And they've been winning games. The media wants to paint them as having turned things around, and ready to make a "run" at the playoffs. We're here to put that notion firmly to bed. Given the matchups, I think that may be pretty doable on paper. Off we go!

Game 1: Sheets v. Hamels
Game 2: Minor v. Blanton
Game 3: Hudson v. Halladay

Ben Sheets has been quite the find here in the latter half of the season. He'll be facing off against a man that just got seriously paid in Cole Hamels. I love that. Now that Cole is financially secure, he can go ahead and join the ranks of other pitchers that completely tank after they get the money. The even more hilarious thing is that Cole has been pretty awful in June/July. Over the past 2 months, his ERA has ballooned over a run and change. Cole's been pitching a 3.97 in July with a WHIP around 1.24, and 5 homers. That's only in 3 games pitched so far. He's 1-4 in his last 5 starts, and Bourn, Janish, Chipper, BMac, and Prado all hit over .275 against Hamels. Sheets is 2-0 in his first 2 starts with a 0.00 ERA. Yeah, ridiculous I know. Sheets has had issues with Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco in the past, however Polanco has been out of the lineup recently with back issues. Who knows how effective he will be even if he plays. Even so, Sheets should be careful about putting a speedster like Pierre on base if he wants to win this game.

Joe freaking Blanton is the garbage pitcher in the Phillies rotation. None of their fans want to see him take the mound with his 4.70 ERA. However, he's found ways to win games he has no business winning. In his last 2 starts, he's given up 13 hits, but only 5 runs in 16 innings. Both of those ended up as 1 run victories for the Phillies. However, his last loss was a 6 run disaster against us. We can abuse this guy at the plate, and the numbers show how. Bourn, Freeman, and McCann all his .400+ against Blanton, while Chipper and Prado go for .300+ each. We can club this fool if Minor can hold up his end of the deal. Minor's lost 2 in a row, but the record doesn't indicate his pitching during those games. 13 innings of 3 run ball should have been good enough to win both of those games, but we stunk in the pen and at the plate. Minor faces off against a Phillies lineup that, outside of Ruiz and Victorino, doesn't know how to hit lefty pitching. In fact, the club is 12-20 when facing a lefty starter. Advantage, Braves.

Remember when Roy Halladay was scary? That's not the case anymore. He's sporting a 4.32 ERA, only 65 Ks in 83 innings, and a 4-5 record. Hudson has a 3.71 ERA with a 9-4 record. In his last game, Halladay gave up 8 hits, 6 runs, and a bomb in 6 innings, but he got the win because the Brewers couldn't close a window at the DMV, let alone a four run lead. I doubt our bullpens would have suffered the same fate. Hudson has won four straight because he's simply been better than everyone else, and he's had the support of our hitters. His last game against Philly was a 7 innning stretch of 4 hit, shutout ball. If he is even 75% of that good again, this game will be a breeze. Oh and should I mention our lineup hits .324 off Halladay? Yeah, the whole damn lineup. Chipper Jones is 8/16 against Doc, BMac is 9/23, UGGLA is 10/28. We shouldn't lose this game on paper. We need this to be a win in the anchor game.

The only things that bother me about the first two games are that Hamels can be really good, and Blanton has a way of getting a ton of run support. Other than that, all the numbers are in our favor. The last game is frankly a must-win. We need to send the Phillies completely into sell mode. A series win would probably do that. A series sweep would timestamp it with authority.

Go Braves!

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