Phillies-Indians (Game 28): Must-Know Stuff
Phillies (12-15) vs. Cleveland Indians (11-13)
First pitch at 7:05
April interleague play was supposed to be the Phillies friend. It hasn’t been. Against teams that lost 90 and 94 games last year, the Royals and Indians, the Phils are 1-3, have been outscored 39 to 18 and three times served nine or more runs. Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick have been charged with losses. Antonio Bastardo earned the only win. So there’s that.
Their three-game win streak snapped by last night’s seven home run shellacking, the Phils wrap the series in Cleveland tonight before heading home for a four-game set with the Giancarlo Stanton-less Marlins tomorrow. Have they already checked out?
Cliff Lee, Cruising
Don't worry about a hangover, 122 pitches five days back or not.
Ten times in his career (incidentally, all as a Phillie under Charlie Manuel) has Lee thrown as many as he did his last time out in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the finale last Thursday.
His ERA in those starts is 1.61.
His ERA in the following starts is 1.59.
Some notable nuggets for Lee’s post-122-pitch starts: 7-0 in 9 starts, three CGs, two complete CG SOs, one 122-pitch start, one fewer than four innings (rain delay), only two others fewer than eight, never more than four runs, two or fewer in 7 of 9.
So yeah. Lee’s probably good for tonight, when he'll be looking to bounce the staff back from Roy Halladay’s latest implosion.
Four of five of Lee’s starts so far have been for quality. The exception? His five-runs-in-five-innings outing against the Cardinals, when he (gasp!) walked three whole batters in a 5-0 loss on Apr. 20. It was rare, and Lee kept it that way, following up with vintage stuff against the Pirates, albeit in a loss.
Lee this year has been everything he was last year, only with more wins and fewer home runs. This, despite actually giving up markedly fewer ground balls (from 45.0% to 37.0%) with his fly ball rate (from 36.9% to 41.7%) making up much of the difference. Yet, Lee’s HR/FB is down (from 11.8% to 6.7%).
In all, only three home runs sprinkled across five starts.
One thing’s for sure, Lee hasn’t been hiding. He’s actually induced a tied-for-fourth-in-baseball 51.0% swings this year, and not on the whims of a bunch of impatient guys chasing (30.7 O-Swing%) either. Lee’s actually allowed decent contact, yet maintained success with a relatively sustainable .276 BABIP.
Also: he’s got the seventh-most vertical movement on his curveball (-10.1) in baseball, which is pretty to watch.
Lee’s never before faced the Indians, the team with which he won a Cy Young in 2008. When he does tomorrow, it will be the 30th MLB franchise he’s opposed. He's seen some current players. Drew Stubbs is 5 for 11 against him with five strikeouts. Nick Swisher (8 for 33, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Mike Aviles (5 for 22, HR, 2 RBI), Jason Giambi (3 for 10, HR, 2B) have had decent success.
The Other Guy
A Sunday doubleheader left the Indians in need of a spot start. And so, Trevor Bauer gets his chance. Again.
Bauer, 22, opened the year with the fifth spot in the rotation, but was optioned to Triple-A after walking seven in a five-inning, three-run 6-0 loss debut against the Rays.
He’s been a stud in the minors since, working a 1-0 mark, 2.50 ERA and 33.3% strikeout rate. He’s also never seen the Phillies before, which means he’ll probably be Cy Young caliber tonight.
Bauer has a starter-worthy five pitches to work with – a fastball, slider, curve, change and split – with good zip on his fastball (92.9 m.p.h.) and solid differential between his heat and off-speed stuff (81.7 m.p.h. change, 75.5 m.p.h. curve).
Bauer, you may remember, was part of the three-team deal that sent the Reds Shin-Soo Choo, the Indians Drew Stubbs and the Diamondbacks Didi Gregorius, as part of Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson’s furious quest for “grit” this offseason. He’d gone 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA for Arizona in 2012.