A Look Ahead: Home Sweet Home

59CAUC9UMECAU51LSQCA8R4TFTCA7A9D8XCALW6VNKCA4VX53WCA07LHLTCADL9TPECA8137V6CABP1CEBCAVGWDMVCAEV3F9ACAJ2VEIQCA1LZQGECARJOAAZCA2F5ACHCAENQIUJAfter a roller coaster ride of a week in which the Phillies finished by sweeping the New York Mets, the Phils welcome the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates to town to wrap up the first half of the 2009 season. The Phillies will be looking to add to their division lead, which currently stands at one game over the Florida Marlins. The Reds and Pirates however will be looking to claw their way back into the pennant race as they head into the All- Star break.

The Phillies enter the week at 42- 37 having gone an even 5 – 5 in their last ten games. Their current winning streak stands at three games thanks to a weekend sweep of the Mets. The Reds enter the week with a .500 record, sitting in fourth place in the Central division. They have played well as of late taking six out of their last ten. Pittsburgh starts the week last place in the Central, and have won only four out of their last ten. A bad week for the Pirates and the Zach Duke trade rumors will begin as the Pirates will hold their yearly trade deadline fire sale.

The Phillies will also be looking to improve upon their home record in which they currently stand at six games below .500.

The Reds will be throwing out a string of right handed pitchers for their four game series with the Phils. Coming into the week the pitching staff has been hot for Cincinnati with the exception of Bronson Arroyo whom the Phillies do not face. Both Micha Owings and Aaron Harang have been good going into the week.  Also, look for Charlie Manuel to start left handed hitters Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs in the outfield over right handed hitter John Mayberry Jr.

The Phillies will counter the Reds Johnny Cueto with Cole Hamels starting the series. The Phillies will also hand the ball over to pitcher Rodrigo Lopez for his second start this season. Both Hamels and J. A. Happ will see two more starts each before the All Star break. Hamels will look to rebound from back to back poor starts while Happ will try to keep doing what he’s been doing, pitching solid games. Happ has been good and may be the Phillies best starter. He comes into the week with a 2.96 earned run average and a 1.23 WHIP. Pirates ace Zach Duke will represent the first left handed starter the Phillies see this week on Friday.

Jimmy Rollins who had a monster series against the Mets may have finally found his groove and when Rollins is hot, the Phillies line up usually follows. Raul Ibanez has yet to start his rehab assignment and the Phils must continue to pick up the slack. The shot of life provided by Rollins has helped but more production from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth will be crucial if the Phillies are to continue to make this a successful home stand. Pedro Feliz also comes into the week on a hot streak having batted .400 last week.

The Phillies head into the Mid- Summer Classic  playing two bad teams. If they continue to get quality starts out of their rotation, this week should be a cake walk. However, if the Phils take these two teams lightly(which they sometimes do against bad teams) they will have limited success. Anything less than 4-2 this week will be a failure. The Phillies need to take care of business against bad teams. To not win both series this week would be unacceptable and make for a long mid season break.

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