West Coast Swing Will Tell Us About Phillies

The Phillies will see the new $35 million man Bumgarner in Game two. (US PRESSWIRE)

At 4-5, this is hardly a deal-breaking series for the Phillies. Nine games won’t tell you much about how the season will go from start to finish. But I don’t think you can doubt that there is a good amount of importance resting on the west coast.

The Phillies embark on a 10-game road trip through San Francisco, San Diego, and Phoenix to battle three-fifths of the NL West. The first three are against a Giants team that has had to deal with a major setback with the loss of closer Brian Wilson, presumably for the entire season. It’s likely he’ll need Tommy John surgery. They still have a very good bullpen, but overall, their pitching hasn’t been stellar in the early going.

The Giants 4.21 ERA ranks 21st in MLB, a number skewed a bit by Tim Lincecum‘s 12.91 ERA through two starts. “The Freak” has allowed 11 earned runs in just 7 2/3 innings so far. The Phillies have had some trouble with him in the past, but perhaps they can beat up on him while he’s still attempting to find his velocity.In nine career starts against the Phillies, Lincecum is 4-1 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP, not including the postseason.

I still think runs will be hard to come by out in by the bay this week. For Game one of the series, it’s Halladay and Lincecum, followed by Joe Blanton against Madison Bumgarner in the second matchup. Bumgarner just inked a 5-year, $35 million contract with the Giants today.

In the final game of the series, Cliff Lee battles Matt Cain. Is this one even better than the Halladay/Lincecum matchup? Could be. Cain was incredibly dominant in his last start, falling just a hit short of a perfect game against the Pirates last week, while striking out 11. I’m looking forward to this one the most.

When the Phillies get to San Diego, they’ll have four winnable games in front of them. The Padres are a rotten offensive ballclub, sitting 27th in baseball with a .604 OPS. Last season, the Phillies scored a four-game sweep in San Diego in late April, holding the Pads to three runs in four games.

Arizona is the final leg of the trip, a place where the Phillies have had mixed results. They’ve lost four of their last six at Chase Field.

For it to be a successful series, what record do the Phillies need to come back with after 10 games? A 7-3 road trip is doable, and maybe necessary if the Phillies want to shake the early-season cobwebs they’ve wrapped themselves in.

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