Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (15-16) @ Toronto Blue Jays (16-17)


May 6, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53), center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) and right fielder Jose Bautista (19) celebrate winning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Blue Jays defeated the Phillies, 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The kid gave up the big inning but he soldiered on and kept his team in the game. Good for you Drew Hutchison. 2 opposite field hits and if it wasn’t for the grand slam to a mediocre at best player in Cody Asche, it would have been a stellar outing. The fact he went 8 innings shows that he has been economical with his pitches and should be able to go 9 if he continues down this path…and doesn’t give up that one big hit. He is getting better every start. Also on this road trip Colby Rasmus has started to really come around. 4 homers over 8 games is pretty impressive but even after killing the ball this past week his OBP is still under .300. I love his fielding and power but at this stage in the game the pitch recognition needs to be there and it just isn’t. Perhaps he needs to chat more with Jose Bautista.

Until the grand slam the Phillies were showing a lack of ability to score. They had one big inning out of 19 against the Jays and that isn’t going to cut it. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley need to get back to form or the seemingly pitching rich Phillies will have a difficult time making it in the super competitive NL East. With Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and A.J. Burnett they have a very solid starting core and a wicked end of the bullpen in Jonathan Paplebon. When Marlon Byrd comes off as one of your better hitters you have issues. The Blue Jays handled them pretty well in Philly. Let’s see if they can do the same at home.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.00 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (5-1, 2.25 ERA)

Cliff Lee is in the middle of a stellar career. Some say he could make the Hall of Fame but his win totals so far (139 in 13 seasons…not including 2014) may keep him out. It isn’t for lack of talent. Cliff Lee is a Top 15 pitcher when he is on. The issues with the Phillies is the lack of run production during Lee’s starts. He could easily have 10 more wins if the Phillies could hit their weight during one of his outings.

Buehrle is another crafty lefty who may have a shot at the HoF if he continues to pitch so well late in his career. Aside from the hiccup start against the Red Sox he has given up two or less runs in very start. He had a workmanlike start against the Royals and has settled in nicely so far into the season. If he can buck his usual trends and remain more economical with his pitches he may get past the 7th inning. He has the durability down he just needs to get that much further into game to give our beat up bullpen a rest.

Game 2: A.J. Burnett (2-1, 2.06 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (2-3, 5.01 ERA)

A.J. Burnett continues to get better as he gets older. He was still a bit wild in his Blue Jays days, stayed that way with the Yankees but as he flipped to Pittsburgh and back in the National League he resurrected his career. Why it took so long for him to find a home this off-season is a mystery. He has settled in nicely as Roy Halladay‘s replacement and given the Phillies another arm in a long line of well signed free-agent arms. Now about that bullpen…

R.A. Dickey seems to have finally righted the ship somewhat. He isn’t killing it but he is given a workmanlike effort out there. I still am not impressed with the high walk rate and the fact he seems to hit a wall at 6 innings but he is what he is. He is definitely not a number 1 anymore but what is he? He kind of reminds me of his mound opponent in a way…if he was back in the NL I bet he would still be killing it. The AL has made him much more of an average pitcher.

Probable Starting Lineups

Philadelphia Phillies

1. CF: Ben Revere
2. SS: Jimmy Rollins
3. 2B: Chase Utley
4. RF: Marlon Byrd
5. 1B: Ryan Howard
6. C: Carlos Ruiz
7. DH: Domonic Brown
8. LF: John Mayberry
9. 3B: Jayson Nix

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B: Juan Francisco
6. DH: Dioner Navarro
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. C: Josh Thole
9. 2B: Steve Tolleson

Worth the Price of Admission: Cliff Lee is one of the best pitchers of this generation. He has done so much in both the NL and AL that he truly may be considered for the HoF one day. This season is no different. He may just carve up our lineup easily given his pedigree and if I am going to allow a win for the Phillies it might as well be from a pitcher of his calibre.

Worth the Price of Street Meat: It’s a good thing Freddy Galvis is a decent glove because his bat would keep him out of the league for a while…kind of like their version of Ryan Goins. Just enjoy some decent defensive play because the rest is putrid (2 for 38??? YIKES!!