Phillies/Cubs Series Preview

The Phillies are on a roll. They’ve won eight games in a row and 12 of their last 13. In their eight-game streak, the Phils have scored 43 runs and allowed 24. The offense is on fire thanks to the usual suspects. In the three games since returning from the break, Rollins has a 1.000 OPS; Utley .905; Howard 1.323; and Ibanez 1.783.

Thank the starting pitching as well. Against the Marlins, the starters allowed one run in 19 innings (0.47 ERA). J.A. Happ continued his push as an NL Rookie of the Year candidate, Cole Hamels got back on track, and Jamie Moyer proved he hasn’t lost his touch at 46.

The Phillies now are faced with the unfortunate task of facing the Cubs’ three best starting pitchers in Ted Lilly, Rich Harden, and Carlos Zambrano. They will counter with their worst three in Rodrigo Lopez, Joe Blanton, and Jamie Moyer (though all three have pitched well lately).

The Cubs have a below-average offense that scores 4.23 runs per game on average, but have the league’s third best pitching staff that allows only 4.04 runs per game on average. Oddly enough, both the Cubs’ starters and relievers have an ERA of 3.77, showing you just how balanced their pitching staff is.

Historically, the Phillies have not fared well against the Cubs’ big three. They hit Lilly the best, are anemic against Harden, and struggle against Zambrano. Lilly and Zambrano are having great seasons for the Cubs while Harden has hit some rough patches, including when he missed about a month between his May 17 and June 13 starts.

Considering the match-ups, the Phillies should feel fortunate if they win two of three.

Let’s go the supremely awesome charts.

Hitting

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

Pitching

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

If the blurriness of the images bothers you as much as it does me, it’s because WordPress automatically reduces the image quality for some unknown reason.

Thanks to Todd Zolecki, here’s tonight’s lineup against Lilly:

Rollins SS
Victorino CF
Utley 2B
Howard 1B
Ibanez LF
Werth RF
Feliz 3B
Ruiz C
Lopez P

I presume that Werth is hitting sixth instead of fifth (breaking up the left-handed hitters) because of his recent struggles. After a stretch of 12 games from June 27 to July 9 in which he hit 7 HR with a 1.537 OPS, he has only one extra-base hit and a .561 OPS in the six games since.

BDD: Handicapping the RoY Race

At Baseball Daily Digest, I take a look at the many rookies making an impact across Major League Baseball this season.

Kenshin Kawakami’s pitching performance is most closely aligned with what we’d expect based on factors he can control (strikeouts, walks, home runs), while J.A. Happ has enjoyed much more success than we would expect.

Due to the fact that Happ plays on a winning team that just so happens to be the defending World Series champions, he will get a lot more notoriety for pitching well than Wells or Kawakami as both play on mediocre teams unlikely to reach the post-season. However, it will take a sterling pitching season to yank the Rookie of the Year award from Colby Rasmus.