Phillies/Nationals Series Preview II

Going into a three-game series in Florida against the 11-4 division-leading Marlins, the 6-8 Phillies were crossing their fingers and hoping to just win the series. Instead, they had two epic come-from-behind victories and a good ol’ fashioned “take the lead and never relent” 13-2 victory in the finale leading to a series sweep of the Fish.

In the finale, the Phillies reached a milestone: Jamie Moyer became the first starting pitcher not to allow a home run this year. He pitched six innings, struck out six, and allowed seven hits and a walk. Chad Durbin and J.A. Happ followed suit and also allowed no homers in three innings of relief. Whew. Now that that’s over…

With a three-game series against the lowly Washington Nationals, the now 9-8 Phillies find themselves in a great position (1.5 GB) to overtake the Marlins for first place in the NL East. The Marlins will travel to New York for a three-game set with the Mets and then head to Chicago for a four-game series with the Cubs. The 9-9 Atlanta Braves will host the 13-5 St. Louis Cardinals and last-place Houston Astros over their next six games.

Back to the tables! Phillies hitters against Nationals pitching:

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, April 27-29

The Phils saw Martis earlier this year but didn’t have a lot of success, scoring only two runs on five hits and two walks in six and one-third innings. Here’s a Martis scouting report by Harry Pavlidis at The Hardball Times:

Martis’ ability to change speeds and miss bats is impressive, and his change-up is vicious. When Martis used it on two-strike counts, he got a swinging third strike more than one time out of three. Still, his favorite time to throw it was on even counts, preferring the slider when ahead.

Phillies lefties like to hit Nationals lefties: Utley and Howard have a .993 and a 1.144 respective OPS against Lannan; and Howard and Ibanez have a 1.333 and 1.577 OPS against Olsen respectively.

National hitters against Phillies’ pitchers:

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, April 27-29

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if Joe Blanton can avoid this, he can have a bit more success against the “Natinals” than he did in his start against them on April 16. Call me crazy.

Hamels has had great success against mostly-bad National lineups, so this may be just what the doctor ordered to get him back on track. Hamels has been lackluster this year, and to make matters worse, he is making his first start since being smoked in the left shoulder by a Prince Fielder line drive.

Myers, the first Phillies starter with an ERA under 5.00, will look to continue his trend of keeping his team in the game. He may not be pitching well but he has limited the damage done against him. In his last start against the Marlins, he only allowed three runs — on a first-inning Dan Uggla three-run home run — in six innings despite allowing eight hits and walking six. That high-wire act will fail eventually, so here’s hoping he’s ahead of the curve.

The pitchers against their respective opponents:

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, April 27-29

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, April 27-29

By 11 PM EST on April 29, the Phillies could be in first place. They would be slightly ahead of schedule compared to last year, when the Phillies first took hold of the NL East on May 1.

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