The Washington Nationals are so revitalizing, aren’t they? If the Phillies hadn’t played the Nationals at all this season, they’d be 18-18. Instead, they’re 28-20 in first place in the NL East following another sweep of the Nats at home. Now, they fly westward to San Diego to meet up with the Padres at Petco Park.
There are no bargains with the surprisingly-competitive Padres when it comes to starting pitching. After Kevin Correia, the Phillies have the privilege of facing Jake Peavy and Chris Young, two extremely good starting pitchers. Young has had a quality start in five out of his last six starts, and in three of them, he gave up only one run. Peavy has been more pedestrian this season than he had been in his previous two, but is still formidable.
The Padres, as they usually do, have one of the worst offenses in the Majors, averaging less than four runs per game. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez and center fielder Scott Hairston are the only ones hitting at an elite level on a consistent basis. The rest are hovering around the league average or below.
Even worse, the Padres are passive base runners, attemping just 29 stolen bases so far this season. The average NL team has attempted 41; the Phillies have attempted 47. Only two teams — the Brewers and Braves — have fewer base-stealing attempts than the Padres.
The Phillies will take their first shot at replacing Brett Myers in the rotation when prospect Antonio Bastardo takes the hill on Tuesday. PhuturePhillies has a scouting report from Baseball America on Bastardo:
His best pitch is a changeup with good action and depth, and he sets it up with an 87-91 mph fastball. His breaking ball is a slurvy mid 80’s pitch, and he struggles to command it effectively at times. He’s small and wiry, which combined with his injury history leads to questions about his durability.
Be surprised if Bastardo goes longer than five innings unless he pitches absolutely lights-out, and be upset if he does go longer (unless) as he does have stamina/durbility concerns as mentioned above.
The Phillies are usually conservative when it comes to rookies making their big league debuts, though. J.A. Happ only went four innings in his debut in 2007 against the New York Mets. Fabio Castro went five as did Zack Segovia as well in ’07.
Overall, this series pits the National League’s best road team (Phillies, 16-6) against the NL’s second-best home team (Padres, 17-6). The Phillies dropped the previous series between the two teams in Philadelphia, losing two of three.
Let’s get to the match-ups.