Phillies/Nationals Series Preview IV

Hard to believe, but the Phillies will play the Nationals for their 10th, 11th, and 12th time this season. Seems like the only teams the Phillies play are the Nats and Marlins. Of course, that wouldn’t be a bad thing since they’re 7-2 against Washington and 4-2 against Florida.

The Phillies will send youngster J.A. Happ out for tomorrow’s start, but the Nationals will counter with a young guy of their own in Ross Detwiler, their first round pick from 2007 (selected immediately after Matt Wieters). He’s pitched well in limited action this season: in two starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles, he’s struck out ten, walked four, and allowed just three earned runs in eleven innings.

For some reason, the Phillies don’t seem to hit against pitchers they’ve never seen before. That’s just based on anecdotal evidence, of course, so that could be completely wrong.

Cole Hamels will oppose Shairon Martis on Saturday. In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, click here for a nice memory.

Moyer-Lannan in the series finale. Another poor outing from Moyer, coupled with Brett Myers potentially headed to surgery, could trigger the Phillies’ front office to start scrambling for some more starting pitching.

Ready for some numbers? If you’re new to the Crashburn Alley series previews, the numbers you’re looking at in the next two charts will show you the hitters’ OPS against the slated starting pitching of the opposing team, and the number after that one is the number of career plate appearances that hitter has against the starter. The names aren’t always accurate as teams make last-minute swaps, as the Marlins did when Burke Badenhop started yesterday in place of Hayden Penn. The numbers, however, are accurate.

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 29-31

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 29-31

The next two charts show you the starting pitchers’ success against the opposing team throughout their careers.

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 29-31

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies, May 29-31

You hate to demand that the Phillies sweep, but it’s the freakin’ Nationals. They’ve been swept five times already this season, including once by the Phillies in a four-game series. Anything less than three wins is a disappointment.

Is This It for Brett Myers?

Brett Myers has a frayed labrumThe news ain’t so good, folks: Brett Myers may need surgery to fix a frayed labrum. Believe it or not, Brett has been the Phillies’ best starter so far this season despite leading the world in home runs allowed (17 in nearly 64 innings; an average of around 2.5 per game). His departure from the rotation would leave the Phillies’ terrible rotation in shambles. On the bright side, it may light a fire under GM Ruben Amaro to acquire that ace pitcher the Phillies, honestly, have needed for the last three years (with all due respect to Cole Hamels).

Erik Bedard, Roy Halladay, and Jake Peavy are the big names being linked in trade rumors. I, for one, would be completely shocked if any of the three ended up in Phillies pinstripes by August 1, as the Phils have historically been averse to making huge in-season trades where they are the ones acquiring the impact player. Can you think of any they have made in recent memory?

At any rate, what the Phillies will need to replace is part of the nearly 3.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) Brett has been worth in 2007 and ’08 combined. Acquiring any of the three aforementioned will satisfy that without question. There will be some others that may be available as well, like Matt Cain, Brandon Webb, and Aaron Harang.

Cross your fingers, folks, and don’t be afraid to say goodbye to some prospects. After all, this Phillies core only has another two years at the most where it will be this competitive, so it’s in the team’s best interest to forfeit some future talent to go for it all in each of the next two years.

Acquiring one pitcher, however, may not fix all that ails the Phillies’ starting pitching. What about Jamie Moyer, who’s been stinking up the joint (as expected)? Carlos Carrasco could get the call. He’s been pitching much better than his 5.81 ERA in AAA Lehigh Valley would indicate; he has 52 strikeouts and 13 walks (4:1 K:BB) in 48 innings. He’s probably been a bit BABIP-unlucky, which should fix itself should he get the call and have the Phillies’ spectacular defense behind him.

As far as Hamels, Happ, and Blanton, they simply have to go out there and pitch and fix themselves on the fly. Kyle Kendrick is the only other Minor Leaguer the Phillies would feel the least bit comfortable about putting into a Major League game for a start. In other words, he’s Plan Z. Don’t get to Plan Z (no offense to KK).

The Phillies-Nationals series preview will be up shortly.