Phillies/Marlins Series Preview II

The Marlins are in town for a three-game set with the Phillies, who are coming off of a very successful 8-2 road trip that went from Washington to Cincinnati to Bronx, New York. This upcoming series marks the 23rd, 24th, and 25th games against NL East foes, and the Washington Nationals will head to Philadelphia shortly as well. Against the NL East, the Phillies are 13-9 (.591).

The Phillies swept the Marlins the only time the two teams have squared off this season, April 24-26. In that series, the Phillies scored 26 runs and allowed only 9 in what appeared to be a turn-around for the Phillies’ starting rotation, which went 19 innings and allowed only 8 runs (3.79 ERA). As we have seen in the time since, that was just a mirage.

Jamie Moyer and Brett Myers, along with Joe Blanton, are slated to pitch against the Marlins in this series. The Marlins are very familiar with Moyer and Myers, who have pitched a combined 219 innings against them. The Phillies, on the other hand, have relatively little experience against the Marlins’ starters, just a mere 43 innings combined against Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, and Hayden Penn*.

* I was hoping for another Hayden P.

As you can see, the top of the Phillies’ lineup does the most damage against the Marlins; Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth haven’t hit Volstad or Miller much at all. In case you haven’t seen these charts before, the first number is the hitter’s OPS against the particular pitcher, and next to it is the number of plate appearances that hitter has had against the pitcher.

Florida Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 25-27

On the other hand, the middle of the Marlins’ lineup pounds Phillie pitching. I propose the Phils not pitch to Hanley Ramirez unless the bases are empty.

Florida Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 25-27

Finally, the pitching:

Florida Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 25-27

Florida Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 25-27

The Phillies are 1.5 up on the Mets and Braves, and 5.5 up on the Marlins. The Braves are on the road in San Francisco, and the Mets are home against the Nationals. Simply winning two of three from the Fish would be just fine to keep pace while the Mets and Braves face weaker opponents.

Hopefully, this is the series where we see Ryan Madson moved into the closer’s role. I don’t think we can stomach another Brad Lidge crash and burn.

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12 comments

  1. doubleh

    May 25, 2009 12:41 PM

    Though I agree that Lidge should be switched out to set-up should he continue to struggle, I just don’t think you can just make this decision rashly. Who’s to say Madson will succeed in the closer’s role? He may, but if he doesn’t handle it well, what do you do then?

    We need for Lidge to get right because him being on the bench will not help us repeat. Perhaps switching to the set-up role will help him regain his command/confidence like it has in the past in Houston, but only after we’ve allowed him sufficient time to figure himself out in the role he earned with the club by being a big part of winning our first championship in 28 years. If last year didn’t happen, and he was just a suitable closer, I wouldn’t care, but I think he’s earned a little more rope than most.

    He has said that he felt the Astros gave up on him in Houston, so I think the Phils know they have to handle this properly. It’s not an easy situation and I don’t envy Manuel, Dubee and FO right now.

  2. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2009 12:54 PM

    In baseball, or in any walk of life for that matter, you can’t be devoted to people. Lidge was great last season, but why does that mean he gets to cost the Phillies games for a longer period of time? If he’s not right, he’s not right. Moving him from closer to set-up wouldn’t fix anything, either, since it’s not the enormity of the situation that’s affecting him.

    He wouldn’t be on the bench in my scenario, and I hope he won’t be should the Phillies choose to try and improve the bullpen. Lidge making a few rehab appearances in the Minors, I think, would go a long way towards helping him recuperate from his pitching woes.

    If his knee is bothering him to the extent where it’s affecting his ability to locate his pitches, then I do think he needs some time off where he is not doing anything too strenuous. So, him sitting on the bench in this scenario seems to work to his benefit.

    Who’s to say Madson will succeed in the closer’s role?

    They said the same thing about Mariano Rivera when he was setting up for John Wetteland.

    Madson has better stuff than Lidge, believe it or not. He has a better fastball, and arguably as good a swing-and-miss pitch in his change-up. Madson has also been nearly untouchable for going on four months now.

    Thanks for the comment. :)

  3. doubleh

    May 25, 2009 01:09 PM

    I realize this and I’m not being overly devoted to Lidge in this situation, but even though Madson has been dominant lately and does have better stuff, we don’t know for a fact that he will succeed in the position. I know we’ll never know for certain, but I am saying that you do have to be certain about DL’ing a guy who believes he’s getting his stuff back (according to every story I read) and taking him away from the job he holds. I just don’t want the decision to be a knee-jerk WIP-type decision, you know?

    I also don’t want to see Lidge get booed every time he comes out to close. So I don’t want to give him so much rope that he hangs himself with it, but I think he should have a couple more chances to turn it around before the rug is pulled.

  4. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2009 01:22 PM

    Well, the Phillies only won the NL East by one game in 2007 and three last year, so you can’t give away games trying to fix your players.

    It’s a little different than if Ryan Howard had been struggling as mightily as Lidge has been, because he’s only one guy in a lineup of eight hitters.

    Lidge, on the other hand, is the only one (at this time) responsible for ninth innings in which the Phillies have a lead of three runs or less. His struggles are magnified much more than any other player. Your margin for error is much less with a closer than it is for other players, since you don’t get many opportunities to make up for the misfortune.

  5. Eh

    May 25, 2009 04:38 PM

    Howard is quickly turning into, if he isn’t already, the most overrated player in the game. There is a distinction between a hitter, and a power hitter, but the media doesn’t talk about it.

    the Braves are an interesting team, if they stay healthy, they could easily win the east with henson and haywood lurking.

    Bill, i saw the kid jsut brought up to AAA Lv the other night, can’t rememeber his name, but his slider was very good.

  6. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2009 06:30 PM

    Since the start of 2006, there have only been four first basemen more valuable than Ryan Howard: Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Pena, and Lance Berkman. Six if you count Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Youkilis, who have split time at first and third base.

    the kid jsut brought up to AAA Lv the other night

    Antonio Bastardo?

    Or Sergio Escalona, if you meant “from AAA”?

    The Braves will be formidable if they can get Kenshin Kawakami to pitch like he did on Friday.

  7. EH

    May 25, 2009 07:19 PM

    It was Bastardo. Very good slider.

    I get your point about Howard, but he’s been statistically on the decline every year, but i’m sure you knew that.

    IF you had to pick two players between say: Howard, Votto, A Gonzalez for the next 5 years, who would you take?

  8. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2009 07:33 PM

    If we’re taking money and age into consideration, I’d take Votto no question.

    Factoring in Howard’s improved defense and Gonzalez’s declining defense (though better this season), I’d take Howard otherwise.

  9. Eh

    May 25, 2009 07:54 PM

    not talking about money, age, probably plays a role. But essentially production.

    IMO Votto is going to be a star, offensively and defensively.

    Howard and Gonzalez are interesting.Agonz. is three years younger. Your defensive point is spot on, Gonzalez had a higher OPS+ last year than howard, and is drastically better than howard this year in a small sample size.

    Unless Howard really has a good year, the good years may be behind him projection wise. Particularly for him, contract wise.

  10. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2009 08:13 PM

    The ZiPS in-season projection has Howard hitting for a .945 OPS the rest of the season; .886 for Gonzalez. Howard is projected to finish with a .915 OPS; Gonzalez .913.

    Gonzalez is about as good a bargain as there is out there right now, though. When he becomes a free agent after the 2011 season, he’s going to make some money, assuming he stays healthy and doesn’t fall off a cliff production-wise.

  11. eh

    May 25, 2009 08:50 PM

    is ZIPs stadium adjusted? i’m not sure.

    Of course, as i make my point, he hits two bombs. ha.
    I’d be a much bigger howard fan if he could find a way to get his average/OBP up.

  12. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2009 09:25 PM

    His OBP has been really high, except for last season on account of a lot less intentional walks. Check out his unintentional walk rates over his career — relatively steady.

    I don’t think ZiPS is park-adjusted but I could be wrong about that.

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