The Mets and Phillies kick off their season slate of 18 games tonight. The Phils' lineup, sans the injured Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, might be a shell of its former self but Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are still around so the team remains as annoying as ever. Luckily for the Mets, Roy Halladay started Wednesday against the Marlins and won't pitch this weekend. However, his two fellow aces will appear. Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series in Philly:
Friday, April 13: RHP R.A. Dickey vs. LHP Cliff Lee
Saturday, April 14: LHP Jon Niese vs. RHP Vance Worley
Sunday, April 15: RHP Mike Pelfrey vs. LHP Cole Hamels
Rich Dubee is the Phils' pitching coach. He has had the job since the 2005 season. Dubee pitched in the Royals minor league system in the late 1970s and early 1980s but never made it to the big leagues. He also looks like he's full of old man strength. Now some words about the Phils' starters:
|2012 - Cliff Lee||0-0||1||1||0||0||0||0||6.0||2||1||1||0||2||4||1.50||.67|
Interesting fact: Lee is a childhood friend of Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland and contributed backup vocals on the band's 2000 album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.
What's the story? There is a strong case for Lee as the best pitcher on Earth. His FIP from 2008 through 2011 was the best in all of MLB, and his K/BB rate over that span was second only to Halladay. It's been a remarkable run for a guy who had a 6.29 ERA in 2007. Lee has impeccable command of his fastball, cutter, changeup, and curveball. His fastball velocity sits in the low 90s these days. Look for him to get ahead of batters with a first-pitch strike. Only Kevin Slowey has been more effective at starting with an 0-1 count since 2008. Lee pitched well in his first start of the season against the Pirates, allowing one run in six innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
Against the Mets: Lee has manhandled the Mets in 21 innings in his career: 0.43 ERA, 17 strikeouts, 5 walks, .580 OPS against. He last faced our heroes in August 2011, tossing seven shutout innings in a 10-0 Phillies romp.
|2012 - Vance Worley||0-0||1||1||0||0||0||0||6.0||5||1||1||1||1||5||1.50||1.00|
Interesting fact: Worley signed up for Shane Victorino's $3,000 seminar at the Philadelphia Hilton, "How To Be A Douchebag", along with 500 other suckers. However, they were all disappointed to find that it was just an empty room except for a slideshow of Victorino on his boat in Hawaii and "For the Love of Money" by the O-Jays playing on loop.
What's the story? Worley more than surpassed expectations in his 2011 rookie campaign, posting a 3.02 ERA in 132.2 innings. He outpitched the fourth ace, Roy Oswalt, and just about matched the strikeout rate of Hamels. Not bad for an unhyped prospect with fourth starter projections. He throws a fastball in the 88-92 mph range and his favorite secondary offering is a slider. He also mixes in a curveball and changeup but neither are particularly impressive. It's tough to know what to expect from him going forward. Was his 2011 strikeout rate for real? Or will it slide this season to be more in line with his below average swinging strike rate? Who knows. Worley pitched well against the Pirates in his season debut last Sunday, striking out five in six innings while allowing one run on a Pedro Alvarez homer.
Against the Mets: Worley has had modest overall success against the Mets: 3.00 ERA in 24 innings with 23 strikeouts and 11 walks. He was rocked at Citi Field last May to the tune of 8 runs on 12 hits in 3 innings. However, he rebounded in his next start in August against the Mets, striking out nine and allowing one run in seven innings.
|2012 - Cole Hamels||0-1||1||1||0||0||0||0||5.1||8||4||3||1||0||9||5.06||1.50|
Interesting fact: Hamels is Illuminati.
What's the story? It would be fun to watch free agent-to-be Hamels sign elsewhere this offseason -- preferably in the American League -- while the Phillies continue to pay Ryan Howard $25 million a year. Hamels enjoyed a career year in 2011, posting personal bests in K/BB ratio, groundball rate, ERA, and FIP. At 28 years old, he is one of the top pitchers in the game and will command a nine-figure deal. For now, he's still a Phillie, and still using his cutter, changeup, and curveball to make batters look foolish. Hamels struck out nine against the Marlins on Monday but gave up eight hits as the Phillies lost 6-2.
Against the Mets: Hamels has logged about half a season's worth of innings pitched against the Mets (101.1 innings) and generally struggled: 4.46 ERA despite a 3.10 K/BB ratio. David Wright has a .930 OPS against Hamels for his career, so get well soon David.
Overall outlook: Dickey is superhuman but Lee is godlike. Game one goes to the Philth. Look for the Mets to rebound tomorrow behind Niese. Pelfrey fails to regain that eight strikeout magic from this past Monday but the Mets pummel Hamels to take the series. Love the Mets. Hate the Phillies.