Phillies (0-1), Braves (1-0)

Once again, it’s all eyes on Roy Halladay, where they’ll stay until he gives us reason to carry on – or cover them.

Roy Halladay, Biggest Start Ever…Again

It’s been three weeks of highly anticipated starts for Halladay (11-8, 4.49 ERA in 2012), and we still can’t be sure what to expect of him this season. His last time out, in his spring finale against the Blue Jays, his two earned runs could’ve easily been five – he left in the fifth with just one out in the bases loaded – had he not passed his 85-to-90-pitch count with 96 and been pulled. Doc struggled with commanding most all his pitches, at least of those he deployed; he bailed on his cutter after a second-inning double to Adam Lind and seldom turned to his changeup at all.

But he cruised through the first and fourth innings in vintage Roy Halladay vogue, and took most of the damage in the second and third, when he and catcher Erik Kratz seemed off-page. Even then, he struck out back-to-back batters in the third on full-count curveballs that, all things considered, were encouraging.

Still, it capped a spring in which he caught a stomach bug that affected two major league starts and one against Toronto’s JV, and took 10 pounds of the 35-year-old right-hander’s 6’6” frame.

Come Wednesday, though, it’s no more excuses – only results.

If this is the most pivotal start of his 15 years in the bigs, it’s an unfortunate draw: Halladay went 0-2 11.21 ERA against the Braves last season, and is 0-3 with a 7.44 ERA in his last six starts against them. All-time, Freddie Freeman has hit .476 with three home runs, nine RBIs in just 15 at-bats against Halladay, and B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla have combined to go .342 (26-for-76) with four home runs, 10 RBIs and 10 extra-base hits.

This spring, Halladay had a 6.06 ERA in six starts.

A win would give him 200 in his career.

The Other Guy

Paul Maholm can’t be too stoked for Wednesday either. The 30-year-old lefty has allowed six or more runs in 4 of 9 career starts against the Phillies, and is just 1-1 with an 11.91 ERA against them in his last three. His last time out against Philadelphia, Maholm got rocked for a season-high seven runs in two innings in an 8-7 Phillies win on Sept. 2.

Chase Utley is .333 with three doubles and a home run in 18 career plate appearances against Maholm, while Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are just .232 with eight strikeouts in 37 PAs.

Still, Maholm (13-11, 3.67 in 2012) has been a better-than-serviceable starter for the Braves since coming over in a July 30 trade with the Cubs, going 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts.

He’s also lit it up in the spring, and finished on a run of 20 1/3 scoreless frames.

Worth Watching

Ben Revere topped Charlie Manuel’s lineup on Monday, making for the first time Jimmy Rollins-in-the-two-hole sighting since May 29, 2004 – before Manuel’s time with the Phillies.

Ryan Howard is 0-for-5 with a strikeout and is 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position.

Jonny Venters has been shut down for the next four weeks after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his throwing elbow on Tuesday morning, and visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

The Phillies forced the Braves to dip into the bullpen four times in the season opener, and worked Luis Avilan, Eric O’Flaherty, Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel for 71 pitches. They should all be available Wednesday after yesterday’s day off, but it’s worth noting that chasing starters – especially early in the series – and taxing the bullpen is the Phillies formula for the rest of these 18 games against the Braves this season. It’s also worth noting that in that 7-5 Game 1 loss, the Phillies had them where they wanted them, but couldn’t capitalize.

Speaking of games in which the Phillies have scored five or more runs: recent totals.

2008: 81

2010: 79

2012: 64

Of course, the latest total was the work of three Howard and Utley-less months, and their record in them – 47-14 – was also compiled without the top set-up man in baseball: Mike Adams.