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Going into the second half, the first-place Phillies will match up with the second-place Florida Marlins who are four games behind. As they usually do, the Marlins have an above-average offense but a below-average pitching staff, which explains their near-.500 record. Since inter-league play ended, the Marlins have only been able to beat subpar teams, sweeping the Nationals and winning two of three against the Pirates while dropping two of three to the Giants and splitting a four-game set with the Diamondbacks.
When you think of the 2009 Marlins, you think of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, and rightly so. They are the only two standout players on the squad. Ramirez boasts a 158 OPS+ and Johnson a 153 ERA+. Both will be contenders at the end of the season for the National League MVP and Cy Young awards, respectively. Other than that, the Marlins are rather mediocre.
Likewise, the Phillies are enjoying MVP-caliber campaigns from Chase Utley and the recently-activated Raul Ibanez but otherwise have not had much to write home about. The starting rotation has been disappointing, especially Cole Hamels, who has only the third-best ERA+ among the Phillies’ current starters, and none have an above-average ERA+.
However, things have been shaping up lately after a slow couple months. Jimmy Rollins, still with a sub-.650 OPS, has caught fire. Since July 2, he has 17 hits in 42 at-bats, including six doubles and a home run. Additionally, he’s drawn ten walks and has been perfect in five stolen base attempts.
Since May 26, Joe Blanton has a 2.44 ERA in 59 innings in nine starts. In that span, opposing hitters have only gotten on base at a .290 clip. Even better, he’s gone at least seven innings in six of the starts, helping to keep the Phillies’ overworked bullpen fresh.
Aside from Cole Hamels, everyone in the starting rotation is pitching better as a matter of fact. In his eight starts since May 31, Jamie Moyer has five quality starts and J.A. Happ has been impeccable since earning his first 2009 start on May 23. With a 3.03 ERA in his ten starts, Happ is easily a Rookie of the Year candidate but I don’t believe he qualifies even though he is under the innings-pitched threshold due to the number of days he’s spent on the Phillies’ 25-man roster.
Now on to the incredibly amazing tables, which are new and improved. Instead of simply including the eight most frequently-used players, I’ve included each team’s bench players as well. If you’re getting too excited, go ahead and use that defibrillator I’ve conveniently added as well. The first column of numbers is the hitter’s OPS against the pitcher, and next to it is the amount of plate appearances in which the two have squared off.
Since it’s the second-half, so it’s officially okay to watch the scoreboard. Here are the match-ups for the Mets and Braves.
- July 16: Oliver Perez @ Derek Lowe
- July 17: Mike Pelfrey @ Jair Jurrjens
- July 18: Johan Santana @ Kenshin Kawakami
- July 19: Fernando Nieve @ Javier Vazquez
Since the Mets are a half-game behind the Braves, we should statistically hope that if the two teams don’t split the series, we want the Mets to take three of four.
You won’t hear me complaining if the Mets get swept.