Philadelphia Phillies (15-7) at Arizona Diamondbacks (9-12)
Time: 9:40 pm., Chase Field
Weather: Clear, 82
Twitter: Phillies Nation
So Michael Stutes turned out to be pretty decent, huh? I mean, it’s only one inning, but it’s nice to see a young pitcher come up and pitch well in his debut. Plus there wasn’t a whole lot else that was positive from last night’s 4-0 whimper. So let’s move on.
With any luck, the Flyers will have Game 7 wrapped up early so no one with divided baseball/hockey loyalties needs to miss the first pitch. Or, if the Sabres eke out yet another heartbreaking victory, at least there’s Phillies baseball on immediately after to lift your wounded spirits. Or something like that.
Anyway, let’s take a look at tonight’s starting pitching matchup. Many people, including me, were predicting that this year would mark the beginning of Roy Oswalt’s slide from a top-tier starter to an aging rotation arm. So far, that has been emphatically not the case. In 17 appearances (16 starts) in the regular season since being traded to Philly, Oswalt has gone 10-1 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.891 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts against only 27 walks in 106 2/3 innings. Not too shabby. This portends a strong outing for the Phillies’ only remaining undefeated starting pitcher, one would hope.
His opposite number, Daniel Hudson, has not been so great. Hudson was acquired from Chicago for Edwin Jackson (who himself was acquired the winter before in a three-team trade along with Ian Kennedy, who shut down the Phillies last night) in July of last year, and after the trade was just as good as Oswalt: 7-1, 1.69 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, and a 4.38 K/BB ratio. Perhaps on the strength of that performance, the Marcel projection system predicted that he’d be quite good this year. I discovered this when I was researching this post in February, and my own crude ranking system (projected ERA below replacement multiplied by projected innings pitched) put him as the 51st-best starting pitcher in all of baseball for 2011, in the neighborhood of Mark Buehrle, Jeremy Guthrie, and Phil Hughes, and only then because the impact of his projected 3.20 ERA was weighed down by his only being projected to throw a shade over 100 innings.
The name stuck out in my mind, and so I took a flyer on him in my fantasy draft and since then, he’s been comically bad, with a 5.92 ERA to show for it. His peripherals and advanced stats predict that he’ll bounce back, but xFIP isn’t a category in my league, so screw this guy. I hope the Phillies score 50 runs off him in the first inning.
Will that happen? Probably not, but there is some hope: Hudson is a righty, which is good news for Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, two hitters who could use some good news, and he’s walked 12 hitters in 24 1/3 innings this season, so a patient approach could pay off. However, with Jayson Werth gone, Chase Utley injured, and Howard and Ruiz slumping, patience has not been the hallmark of the 2011 Phillies. That and Hudson has struck out 26 batters this season, though the Phillies, unbelievably, have the second-fewest batter strikeouts in the National League. This ought to be fun.
Your gameday beer: Labatt Blue
Been on a Canadian beer kick recently. Might be because the NHL playoffs are on, but I don’t know for sure. Anyway, if you’ve been drinking a lot of Yuengling recently (and by the way the Phillies have hit the past few days, you’ve probably been drinking a lot of Yuengling) and want something a little lighter but not as gag-inducing as your garden variety mainstream American lagers (and I’m looking at you, Bud Light and Coors Light). Try one–it’s pretty good, eh?– By Michael