Phillies-Marlins: What you need to know

Phillies-Marlins: What you need to know

May 3, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Phillies (13-16) vs. Marlins (8-21)
7:05 p.m. – CSN

It’s a shame the Phillies only play 38 games against the Marlins and Mets. Thursday’s 7-2 win over Miami improved the Phils to 8-2 against those two NL East cellar-dwellers; they’re 5-14 against everyone else.

Kyle Kendrick clearly didn’t have his best stuff against the Marlins but it didn’t matter because their lineup is so weak. Mistakes over the middle don’t mean as much when you’re making them against Donovan Solano, Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarria.

Kendrick just continues to impress. He battled through early difficulties and picked up his third win of the season. Over his last 16 starts he’s 10-4 with a 2.43 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a .218 opponents’ batting average. Going even further, he has a 3.46 ERA over his last 50 starts.

The progress is real.

Pettibone, Part III

The Phillies hope Jonathan Pettibone’s progress can continue Friday night against Miami. Pettibone (1-0, 4.35) wasn’t very sharp in last weekend’s win over the Mets, but the Phils’ offensive onslaught helped the rookie earn his first big-league victory.

Pettibone’s rate of swinging strikes is just 4.5 percent, less than half the league-average.

And his line drive rate is very high – 12 of his 30 balls in play have been liners. That’s not a rate that will likely be sustained, but if it remains anywhere close to that high he won’t be going very deep into games. Pettibone will need to do a better job of keeping the ball low and out of the middle of the plate.

Another shot at Nolasco

The Phillies did very little against Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 3.82) on April 12, when they managed just one run on seven hits against him over six innings. Nolasco wasn’t overpowering – he rarely is – finishing with one strikeout.

A crafty righty who defines the term “pitching backwards,” Nolasco has had many more great starts against the Phillies than poor ones. In 10 of his 19 starts he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer. In seven of the nine others, he’s allowed four earned runs or more.

All-time at Citizens Bank Park, Nolasco is 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA.

Lefties vs. Nolasco

This season they’re hitting .286 with a .786 OPS vs. Nolasco. Righties are at .184 with a .508 OPS.

The Phillies’ lefties see him well. Ryan Howard is 8 for 33 (.242), but that includes four doubles and three homers. He’s also walked eight times.

Chase Utley is a .289 hitter off Nolasco with a double, triple and homer in 38 at-bats. Domonic Brown is 5 for 9 with two extra-base hits of his own. Even Laynce Nix, who may be relegated to the bench unless the Phillies deem him capable of playing centerfield tonight, is 4 for 13 with a homer and three walks vs. Nolasco.

Nix started three games last season in center, but an outfield of Nix, Brown and Delmon Young would be cover-the-children’s-eyes scary.

Brown rolling

Since bottoming out at .206 on April 23, Brown has gone 12 for 31 (.387) over his last eight games with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Oddly, the patient left-handed hitter hasn’t walked once during that span.

As a result his batting average is up to .266, the highest it’s been since the Phillies’ second home game of the season.

Unlucky Piece

Howard on Friday went deep for the third time in his last eight games. He has four homers on the season but could easily have nine or 10. He’s flown out to the warning track or wall nine times already this season.

Good sign or bad sign?

If you’re an optimist, you look at that stat and think “The power is still there.”

If you’re a pessimist, you look at it and think “The Achilles’ injury has sapped him of just enough power to make him a less dangerous hitter.”

Rest of the series

Cole Hamels faces Jose Fernandez on Saturday night, and Roy Halladay opposes Kevin Slowey in Sunday’s 2:35 p.m. series finale.

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