Friday, May 29, 2009

Phillies Series Preview

Friday: Ross Detweiler vs JA Happ

Saturday: Shairon Martis vs Cole Hamels

Sunday: John Lannan vs Jamie Moyer

Just as a refresher, JA Happ is the man who came out of the bullpen two Fridays ago and with a runner on struck out Johnson, Zimmerman, and Dunn to force a 12th inning. Despite Hamels being the ace, Happ will likely be the toughest puzzle to solve. Right now, his numbers look great, but when you dig a little deeper, Happ has been a strike out pitcher at every professional level. Since moving to the majors, however, despite what he did to the heart of the Nats order, he has been absorbing more contact all the while posting a .219 BABIP. Has Happ been lucky? Possibly. Do these tactics figure to work as the Phillies move him into the rotation? Probably not. He is a lefty who has shown he can get the Nats big bats out, so it will be interesting to see how Manny sets his lineup tonight. The Phillies are absorbing a big blow losing Brett Myers, so the Nats need to make the most of this opportunity to exact some revenge.

After a shaky start, Hamels looks to be rounding back into frontline form. Another lefty will give Manny more decisions to make with the lineup. The key will be to get his pitch count up early and have him out of the game by the sixth. Happ probably won't go too deep, so getting to their bullpen two straight days will create some opportunities against the likes Chad Durbin and Chan Ho Park. A third straight lefty will follow Sunday with Jamie Moyer, who has really struggled this year with the Medicare cuts. He has always skated by with low K rates, but now his command is a little off and teams are crushing him.

Getting Jesus Flores back will definitely help, and we know what to expect from the top four slots in the batting order. Willingham should get a decent audition this weekend, and Dunn will probably move to first for a game to get Kearns some swings. Honestly, if Kearns cannot get going against these lefties, it may be time to eat the contract... Rizzo does get tired of watching people.

As far as the Nats starters go, continue throwing strikes! The Phils are going to get their runs with the loaded middle of their lineup, but it's best to avoid big innings by walking guys who a are struggling, like Rollins and Victorino. Once again, the Nats cannot spot their opponent two to four runs in the first inning, as they have been often this season.

The best thing going for the Nats this series is that it cannot possibly be as bad as their last stand against Philly. There are only three opportunities to blow it this time. And what are the odds Martis stays perfect? I vote good... just a hunch.

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