Sunday, April 26, 2015

Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals

In a rare post, I'll provide a summary of what to expect as the Phillies travel to St. Louis for a four-game set to kick off a 10-game road trip (Miami follows, then Atlanta). The story lines:
  • Hometown Kid: Ryan Howard is heating up - all 3 2015 HRs occurred in past 5 games w/ only 3 Ks in that span. He's doing a better job working counts. As we may remember, Howard generally does very well in St. Louis, where he grew up, hitting around .350 in his career there. The window to trade Howard is closing (5/9 is when his 10-and-5 rights kick in). However, if he has a 4+-HR road trip (he also kills the Braves at Turner Field), I think Rube has some leverage, especially if he offers to trade Chooch, Cole, or Pap + more cash with Ryan.
  • Continue to work on fundamentals & situational hitting: This may be a tough one as they're on the road (hampers before-game work), but so far the Phillies are doing better with fundamentals - no errors since the 9-1 loss to the Marlins, bunts are down, and they continuously take pitches. Right now, their BABIP w/ RISP sits at .194 (lowest in the majors and thus unsustainable). If they can keep taking pitches and use the "see-ball-hit-ball technique", they'll have a good series.
  • Rotation:
    • Hamels & Buchannan improving: They continue to gradually improve with each start and I expect the same thing in this series: tomorrow & Thursday respectively.
    • Severino Gonzalez' MLB debut: He will get the nod on Tuesday, filling in for O'Sullivan (left knee) and Billingsley (elbow rehab). Currently 1-1 w/ a >3.5 ERA, <1.3 WHIP, >4.5 K/9 in AAA.
    • Continued success from Harang: He gets the nod. Currently 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA!
    • Thursday's opposing starter?: Adam Wainwright has an Achillies injury and is likely out for the year (pending MRI results). Funny timing as they face former Achilles patient Ryan Howard. Anyway, the Cards will need to decide Wed. night.
  • Hot-hitting Galvis: a 3-3 afternoon propels his AVG to .361. Nice! According to Sandberg's presser, Galvis is trying for line drives, so I expect his success to continue.
Anyway, great series win. I'm looking for a 6-4 road trip, which is probably the best-case scenario from this Phillies squad.

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