Phillies at Mets
7:10 p.m. on CSN
After winning their first series at home since June 10-12, the Phillies embark on a seven-game road trip to New York and Washington.
Their three-game series with the Mets begins Monday night as a pair of mid-tier starters on the trading block duel:
Burnett vs. Colon
A.J. Burnett is 37 years old and Bartolo Colon is 41. Both have pitched well this season and could be on the move if their teams find either salary relief or mid-level prospects in return.
After David Price, Cliff Lee and perhaps Cole Hamels and Jon Lester, there are few starting pitchers available who have been better than Burnett and Colon.
Both pitchers are used to the rumors. Burnett has been traded twice in his career, though neither deal was made near the deadline. Both trades took place in February, right as pitchers and catchers were reporting.
Colon was also moved twice, in 2002 and 2003. The Indians' trade of Colon to the Expos was one of the more lopsided deals in recent history -- on June 27, 2002, Cleveland traded Colon to Montreal for prospects Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore.
A.J. stretched out
Burnett pitched eight shutout innings last Wednesday against the Giants but did not factor into the decision.
On four different occasions this season, a Phillies starter had a no decision despite pitching at least seven shutout innings. That leads the majors, and only the Cubs have had it happen three times. The victims were Burnett and Hamels, twice apiece.
Burnett has a 3.18 ERA over his last nine starts but the Phillies are just 3-6. He's kept the walks down during that six-week stretch and that has enabled him to pitch 7.2 innings per start.
One of Burnett's worst starts of the year, and of the strangest starts by any major-league pitcher ever, came against the Mets on May 30 at Citizens Bank Park. Burnett pitched seven innings, allowed five hits, five runs and six walks and struck out 11. It was the first time in 15 years that a pitcher completed at least seven innings while walking and striking out that many batters.
Breakout series for Howard?
Since his three-game benching, Ryan Howard is 3 for 8 with a two-run homer, two runs scored and two walks.
Howard's homer on Sunday was his first at CBP since June 1.
In only four career at-bats against Colon, Howard is 2 for 4 with a pair of two-run shots.
The Big Piece has eight career homers in 32 games at spacious Citi Field.
This could be the breakout series Howard so desperately needs. He's owned Tuesday's starter, Dillon Gee, going 9 for 18 with six homers, a double and 14 RBIs.
What's up with Wright?
So ... has anyone outside of New York noticed how mediocre David Wright has been this season?
The Mets' star third baseman has hit .278/.339/.401 this season with just eight homers in 434 plate appearances. His .739 OPS ranks 86th in baseball, behind the likes of Luis Valbuena and Chris Carter.
It seems Wright has abandoned his usually disciplined approach at the plate in an effort to drive the ball more. His walk rate of 8.1 percent is the worst of his career.
Low-and-away sliders by right-handed pitchers have been his biggest weakness this season. Wright has swung and missed at them 43 times this year, 20 times with two strikes, and has just one extra-base hit all season against that specific pitch, according to BaseballSavant.com. That's something Burnett has surely made note of.
Chooch on track
Since returning from his month-long absence caused by a concussion, Ruiz has gone 4 for 12 with three doubles, two runs, an RBI and a walk.
It's been a boost to the lineup, as Phillies catchers had just five extra-base hits while Chooch was out.
Despite sitting out 36 games, Ruiz has more doubles (18) than all but two major-league catchers, Jonathan Lucroy and Kurt Suzuki. Chooch also has an impressive .366 on-base percentage which ranks third among all catchers with at least 275 plate appearances.