Phillies-Blue Jays: What you need to know
Phillies (31-35) at Toronto Blue Jays (32-32)1:07 p.m. on CSN
Roy Halladay. Cliff Lee. Ryan Howard. Chase Utley. Vance Worley. Freddy Galvis. Jim Thome. Laynce Nix. Michael Stutes. David Herndon. Michael Martinez. Justin De Fratus. Now Carlos Ruiz.
The injuries just don’t end for the 2012 Phillies, who not only lost 3-0 to the Blue Jays on Friday night but lost their catcher and .362-hitter in Ruiz for at least a couple days and probably more. Ruiz suffered a strained oblique on a swing in the sixth inning. Jim Salisbury wonders if Ruiz’s injury will be the final straw for a team that’s depth has been tested above and beyond the wildest of imaginations (see story)
The show must go on, though, and things can be made very slightly better Saturday afternoon if Cliff Lee picks up his first win of the season in his (gulp) 11th start.Starting pitchers
Lee, 0-3 with a 3.18 ERA, takes the mound coming off an uneven start in Baltimore in which he relinquished a three-run lead. He’s been plagued by the second-lowest run support in baseball (18 runs), but Lee has also given up his fair share of leads. He shouldn’t be 0-3 in mid-June, but he shouldn’t be 7-3, either.
Lee does enter play with the third-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball, though, at 5.69. He has 74 strikeouts to just 13 walks, a rate bested only by Mr. Perfect Matt Cain and Rangers righty Colby Lewis.
Picking up that elusive first victory won’t be easy for Lee, as his team takes on Blue Jays lefthander Ricky Romero (7-1, 4.15 ERA). It hasn’t been the prettiest season for Romero, but he’s on the opposite end of the run support spectrum, having received the most runs of support (69) in all of baseball.
Romero has faced the Phillies three times over the last three years, and he’s 1-0 with a 2.21 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. The Phils have hit just .187 off him, but Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino and Ty Wigginton have had some success, going 11 for 31 (.355).Key matchup(s)
We would go with Victorino here, since a meeting with a lefty would seem to help him out of a 3-for-24 slump that has dropped his batting average to .245. But Victorino needs a day off and might get one Saturday. He’s played 585 innings this season, second in the NL by two-thirds of an inning to outfield-mate Hunter Pence.
Jim Thome could have himself a day despite facing a southpaw. Romero’s best asset by far is his changeup, which explains why righties are so much worse against him than lefties.
This season, lefties are hitting .277 off Romero compared to .199 for righties, and over the last three seasons those numbers are .280 and .231, respectively.
Lee must be careful with Jose Bautista and let Edwin Encarnacion beat him if need be. What we saw Friday night was that when Bautista doesn’t drive in runs, the Blue Jays’ offense stagnates. Two of Toronto’s three runs came as a result of an errant throw by Mike Fontenot on a double play ball.Note of interest
The Blue Jays on Friday became the first team since the Giants in 2002 to pitch a shutout while having a starting pitcher exit before the end of the first inning. Much of that can be credited to Phillie-killer Carlos Villanueva, who struck out five over four shutout innings.
The former Brewer has a 1.80 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 25 innings against the Phillies in his career.
Villanueva becomes a free agent after the season and is sure to be undervalued. He can be used in long relief and in a setup role… perhaps the Phillies should employ a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality?Sound off
If you had to predict the Phillies’ end-of-year record today, what would it be?E-mail Corey Seidman at firstname.lastname@example.org