D’backs Vs. Phillies Series Preview, Sort Of


Alright, alright, I missed the first game of the series. You don’t have to jump down my throat about it! It was for a good reason, I did a Q&A with That Balls Outta Here‘s senior editor Justin Klugh. You can see his and my responses here.

The D’backs (20-15) got off to a strong start in the four-game set with the Phils (16-20), taking the opener 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel. Patrick Corbin was once again stellar for the D’backs and Heath Bell made his first appearance as the announced closer, shutting down the Phils in the ninth for his fourth save of the season.

The Phillies are 25th in the league in runs per game, 3.66, on offense and even worse on the road, 3.18. This is the first series between the two teams this season. In 2012, the Phillies were on the right end of a six-game set, winning four of the six games.

With three games still ahead, the D’backs would like nothing more to continue their four-game win streak. Here’s how it sets up.

Game 1 (Friday): Ian Kennedy (1-3, 5.19 ERA) vs. Tyler Cloyd (0-0, —-)

In his last time out, Kennedy had such a “IPK” outing that it was almost cliche. He went seven innings, fighting through three walks and seven hits given up. But he also gave up for runs in those seven innings. That seems to be the norm for Kennedy the past 12 months. He doesn’t have an out pitch, leaving him with very few options when trying to run through a lineup three times. He has three quality starts this season, two outings where he gave up four runs and another where he gave up six. He also only has one “stellar” start, which I define as seven innings or longer, giving up two runs or less. Cloyd, taking DL’d Roy Halladay‘s spot on the rotation, will be making his 2013 debut. He started six games for the Phillies in 2012, going 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA. With the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the International League this season, he’s gone 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA; however, he has an 8.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 35 innings.

Game 2 (Saturday): Trevor Cahill (2-3, 2.80) vs Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.26)

Quietly, Cahill has been absolutely dominant after his first two starts of the season. He’s thrown 27.1 innings since then, and has only allowed five runs in those outings. Though, his most strike outs came in those first two games of the season where he allowed seven runs in 10.2 innings. Somebody let @cantpredictball know on Twitter. Lee has been the Phillies’ best pitcher this year out of the big three (Lee, Halladay and Cole Hamels), which would be okay if he was his usual dominant self. Instead, he’s been good, even great, but not exceptional. In his previous three outings combined, he’s thrown 19 innings and allowed 10 runs. His control of the strike zone has remained stellar, though, only walking five the entire season.

Game 3 (Sunday): Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 6.75) vs. Kyle Kendrick (4-1, 2.45)

McCarthy threw his first quality start of the season his last time out, a 5-3 win over the Dodgers on May 7. But it was the quality start that I believe shouldn’t count. He lasted only 6.1 innings and allowed three earned. It was his best outing of the season with a doubt, though. He’s been incredibly unlucky with BABIP against so far, with a unsustainable .385 mark against him. League average is .300 and most pitchers will be fairly close to that, some above, some below, but nothing even close to that high. That bad luck continued in his previous outing. He struck out three, walked one and still gave up eight hits in 27 batters faced, giving him a .348 BABIP in the game. That’s obviously a tiny sample size and any one game can be much higher and much lower for pitchers, but at some point, McCarthy’s going to start getting a tad luckier. That being said, his other peripheral numbers aren’t stellar right now. I’ll have a more detailed post up on Sunday. If Lee has been the best Phils’ starter of the big three, Kendrick has been the best pitcher of the entire staff. He’s on a streak of five straight starts of at least six innings and two runs or less, including a complete-game shut out on April 26 against the Mets. In his last outing, he went seven innings, allowed two runs on six hits and struck out six.