Phillies-Indians (Game 27): Must-Know Stuff
Phillies (12-14) at Cleveland Indians (10-13)
First pitch at 7:10 p.m.
This isn’t the Phillies' first stroke of scheduling luck. They opened the year with 9 of 12 games against the Royals, Mets and Marlins. They got two of their toughest series, against the Cardinals and Pirates, in Citizens Bank Park’s cozy corridors. Then they got the Mets again.
So while the timing of this two-game set with the Cleveland seems clutch – it offers the chance to bring a five-game win streak and .500 record back home for four more games with the Marlins (yay!) – it’s not like schedule makers lined up Mt. Kilimanjaro for the Phillies' early going.
The Phillies stuck at least three runs in each of the three games in their weekend sweep in New York, after plating three or more in only 16 of 23 games prior. Damage would best be served early against the Indians, whose starters' ERA (5.23) is fourth-worst. Their relievers (2.89 ERA ranks ninth.
These teams haven’t met since June 2010 a three-game Phillies sweep.
Roy Halladay: Restored?
Maybe it was only about “letting go.”
Maybe it was about drawing the Marlins, Cardinals and Pirates.
Halladay (2-2, 5.08 ERA) after his last start said this recent run – he’s 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts – has been about trying less, throwing up the blinders and letting baseball be baseball. But of the combined 12 major offensive categories between his last three opponents, only two (STL is Nos. 8 and 18 in runs scored and batting average) rank higher than 20th.
Cleveland’s a bit better, and creates something of a matchup problem for Doc.
They lean heavily on the long ball, ranking third in slugging percentage (.438). Cleveland also ranks eighth in home runs. Halladay was rocked for three bombs combined against the Braves and Mets, and none of his next three opponents ranked in the top 20 in baseball. Still, Halladay’s HR/FB rate (20.8%) this year ranks fourth – twice his career average.
Halladay seems to be getting a better handle, especially on his cutter. After walking 14.6% of his batters in his first two games, Halladay’s issued freebies on only 8.5% of plate appearances since. Still not what it was in 2010-11, when his BB%s were 3.0 and 3.8. But it’s a start. The next step: not falling behind. Halladay’s first-pitch strike percentage (50.4%) is still fifth-worst.
Worse, he’s not getting batters to chase like he used to. His O-Swing% (22.5%) is third-worst in baseball this year. From 2010-2011, Halladay was one of the best there, ranking No. 7 of 85 qualifying starters over the span.
Halladay’s 6-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 13 starts against the Indians lifetime, all as a Blue Jay and without much of a home-road split. He’s only faced five Indians on the current roster, though Jason Giambi (22 for 72, 4 HR, 9 RBI) and Nick Swisher (6 for 20, HR, 2 RBI) are .300 hitters. Drew Stubbs and Asdrubal Cabrera are a combined 4 for 21 (.190) and Mark Reynolds has 1 hit in 4 ABs.
The Other Guy
Talk about a sob story. Cleveland’s Zach McAllister (1-3, 3.52 ERA) has surrendered no more than three runs in any of his four starts, half of them quality, and yet has one measly win to show for it, after a 9-4 final against the White Sox, because he’s gotten two runs of support or fewer in each.
What's crazier? McAllister’s 3.50 runs of support per nine innings is better than that of Halladay (3.40), Cliff Lee (3.20) and John Lannan (3.00), and just under Cole Hamels’ 3.67. (Kyle Kendrick leads the rotation with 4.40.)
Reaching base should be feasible tonight, even for the Phillies. After walking none in his first two starts, McAllister issued eight freebies in his next 10 2/3 innings, with five going to the team that’s drawn the 29th fewest in baseball, the White Sox, who have seven fewer than the Phillies so far. As a righty, McAllister’s also got a .256/.347/.419 slash line vs. lefties this season. (So, the DH debate tonight should be where, not whether, to bat Laynce Nix.)
Then again, these Phillies have never faced McAllister before, and first times have been rough times for them in 2013. Four times this year have they met a starter, and have allowed a composite 2.05 ERA and .195 batting average, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Phillies are 1-3 in those games.
In other words, the Phillies make first-timers look like Adam Wainwright.
Ben Revere could be back in the lineup tonight. He sat the four games since the Pirates series finale, equal parts because he’d played all 23 of the Phillies games prior, had a sore quad from spring training, and was hitting .207.
A possible Phillies lineup vs. RHP McAllister:
Rollins, SS (.267/.321/.406)
Utley, 2B (.295/.340/.505)
Young, 3B (.352/.418/.432)
Howard, 1B (.286/.299/.462)
Ruiz, C (.333/.333/.667)
Brown, LF (.241/.312/.386)
Mayberry, RF (.238/.324/.476)
Nix, DH (.261/.306/.435)
Revere, CF (.207/.242/.230)
A possible Indians lineup vs. RHP Halladay
Brantley, LF (.291/.371/.372)
Kipnis, 2B (.185/.260/.277)
Cabrera, SS (.225/.287/.375)
Swisher, 1B (.265/.386/.410)
Reynolds, DH (.291/.363/.620)
Santana, C (.386/.465/.686)
Raburn, RF (.283/.340/.478)
Chisenhall, 3B (.221/.254/.368)
Stubbs, CF (.213/.286/.293)