August 11 2006
The next update to Philliesflow will be on August 20.
The Phils begin a 10-game homestand tonight with the first of three against the Reds. After the series with the Reds, the Phillies play four against the Mets followed by a three-game set with the Nationals.
You know who I bet isn't
real impressed with National League Wild Card contenders? The rest of
the world. In the American League, for example, if you're three games
over .500, like the Angels are, you arose this morning and found yourself
nine games out of the Wild Card hunt and trailing four teams, including the
Toronto Blue Jays, who have about as much chance of making the playoffs this
year as Snakes on a Plane has of winning Best Picture. The Reds are
also three games over, but lead the race in the NL, mostly because somebody
The Cincinnati Reds will be in Philadelphia tonight for the first of three games with the Phillies. They're bringing with them pretty much everyone who's pitched for the Phillies over the last few years that's no longer with the team. The Phillies come in at 55-58 and in second place in the NL East, 14 games behind the New York Mets. The Reds are 59-56 and in second place in the NL Central, trailing the Cardinals by 3 1/2 games. The Phils trail the Reds by three games in the Wild Card chase and are also behind the Diamondbacks, Padres and Astros with 49 games left to play.
The Phillies have scored the third most runs in the National League this season, the Reds the seventh most. Both pitching staffs are awful -- the Phillies have allowed the fourth most runs in the league, the Reds the second most. Cincinnati has also allowed the most hits and the most home runs, but the fewest walks. With a major assist to their ball humidor gone wild, the Colorado Rockies have allowed the fewest home runs in all of baseball this year.
Adam Dunn (258/385/555) leads the team in home runs (34) and RBI (80). He's joined in the outfield by Ken Griffey, Jr (244/299/488) and Ryan Freel (294/386/447). Griffey's .299 on-base percentage is shocking -- it's 52 points lower than his .351 mark in 2004, which, coming into the 2006 season, was his lowest since 1989. His career on-base percentage is .374 and he on-based .369 last year. Freel's numbers in average, on-base percentage and slugging are all highs for his career and he's stolen 24 bases.
Edwin Encarnacion (296/386/502), Scott Hatteberg (330/423/509), Brandon Phillips (290/341/429) and Royce Clayton (263/312/347) get most of the work in the infield, with Rich Aurillia and Juan Castro filling in. Hatteberg's numbers at first are a surprise, he's a career 274/362/412 hitter and he'll be 37 in December. The Reds took a big chance this year, strengthening their pen in a deal that sent Felipe Lopez, among others, to the Nationals. It left them with a big void at shortstop.
The remade pen features lefty Eddie Guardado as the closer, backed up by righties Todd Coffey, David Weathers, Ryan Franklin and lefties Bill Bray, Kent Merker and Rheal Cormier. Guardado has been awesome since coming over from Seattle, pitching to an 0.84 ERA in 11 games while notching seven saves. Coffey has a 3.32 ERA but has allowed 64 hits in 57 innings. Lefties are hitting .338 against him. Weathers has allowed 11 home runs in 54 2/3 innings. Bill Bray joined the Reds in mid-July and has given up 40 hits in 34 2/3 innings this year but kept the ball in the park, allowing just two home runs. Merker is 38 and has allowed six home runs in 27 1/3 innings. You may be familiar with the work of Franklin and Cormier. Cormier looked a little ragged by the end of his time with the Phillies and has thrown to a 6.23 ERA in six games with the Reds.
Jon Lieber (4-9, 5.71) faces righty Kyle Lohse (2-5, 6.85) tonight. The Reds acquired Lohse on July 31 as part of their ongoing effort to have enough pitchers to field a team. He threw to a 7.07 ERA in 22 games with the Twins, including eight starts, so you can see the appeal. He's appeared in two games for the Reds, most recently he started against the Braves on Sunday and allowed two runs over five innings on four hits. He struck out seven without walking a batter. Righties are hitting hit hard, they're batting .325 against him. And then there's Jon Lieber. I've been predicting the return to adequateness for Jon Lieber for three starts now and Lieber seems pretty much unfazed. He's given up 30 hits and 14 earned runs over his past three starts while throwing 19 2/3 innings. I still think he's going to pitch well down the stretch for two reasons -- he hasn't had an ERA over 4.50 since 1995 and he tore it up at the end of last year. He was very good in his last start as well, going eight innings but making a fielding error that opened the door for three unearned runs by the Mets as New York beat the Phils 4-3. Beerleaguer has led the charge in pointing out that Lieber lacks the physique of many of your elite athletes -- if he does come on at the end of the year someone might suggest to him that he try getting in shape at the beginning of the season rather than try and pitch himself into it. That and to just not to try and field the ball at all whenever that's possible.
Scott Mathieson (1-3, 5.40) faces righty Elizardo Ramirez (4-8, 4.93) tomorrow night. The Phillies signed Ramirez as an amateur free agent in 1999, and he appeared in seven games for the Phils in 2004, throwing to a 4.80 ERA. He was traded to the Reds in August 2004 as part of the deal that brought Cory Lidle to Philadelphia. He's still just 23. He's been hit hard in his last two starts, the last of which came on Monday in St Louis. He went just 1 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs, six of them earned, on six hits and two walks. In 102 1/3 innings on the year, he's allowed 116 hits but walked just 26. Scott Mathieson got smoked in an ESPN Sunday night game in his last start. He pitched well for three innings but didn't make it through the fourth, giving up a grand slam to Jose Reyes after Mathieson made a fielding error that game the Mets an extra out. Righties are hitting .324 against him and he's walked seven in his last 8 2/3 innings.
Brett Myers (8-5, 3.95) faces lefty Eric Milton (8-7, 5.01) on Sunday afternoon. Milton is another former Phily, he went 14-6 with a 4.75 ERA for the Phils in 2004 after the Phillies sent Carlos Silva and Nick Punto to Minnesota for him in December, 2003. The Reds signed him as a free agent in December, 2004. Milton has put together three solid starts in a row, going 2-1 and allowing six earned runs in 20 innings on just 17 hits. He last pitched on Tuesday and got the win, holding St Louis to one earned run over six innings. After allowing 237 hits in 186 1/3 innings last year, he's allowed just 118 in 120 1/3 innings in 2006. He's been especially tough against lefties, who are hitting .202 against him. After pitching well for most of the year without being able to get a win, Myers is 2-0 in his last two starts and has allowed ten earned runs on 16 hits in 11 innings. He last pitched on Monday in Atlanta and went just five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks.