Need a brief respite from the Eagles? Cliff Lee’s got your back.
Lee is on the mound Wednesday, a night ahead of schedule as the Phillies continue their three-game series with the San Diego Padres. Lee switched days with Roy Halladay (illness) but is on regular rest because of Monday's off day. Halladay will go on Thursday.
1. Still alive!
We're not saying the Phillies are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs ... but to earn the second wild-card spot, they'd need to go 18-0 and have the Reds go 0-15 the rest of the way.
2. Lee back under 3?
Eight fantastic innings from Lee last Friday lowered his ERA to 3.01, giving him a chance to go back in the 2.00s for the first time since early July. Lee struck out 10 Braves without a walk in that 2-1 win, increasing his career K/BB ratio vs. Atlanta to 14.3. That’s the best strikeout-to-walk ratio for one starting pitcher vs. one team in the history of baseball.
San Diego is a team Lee has actually struggled against. He’s 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA in six career starts vs. the Padres, who have a .312 batting average off him. Third baseman Chase Headley has done the most damage, going 6 for 13 with two doubles and three RBIs.
If Lee records an out in the ninth inning tonight he’ll reach the 200-inning mark for the sixth straight season.
3. Stults winding down
Padres lefty Eric Stults (8-13, 4.07) gets the nod on Wednesday. It’s the 30th start of the year for the 33-year-old, who until this year had never made more than 15 starts in a season.
Stults has pitched 80 more innings this year than ever before, and all those bullets are beginning to catch up to him. Stults has a 7.16 ERA over his last five starts and a 5.26 ERA over his last 13. His opponents have hit .332 since mid-July.
Stults started against the Phils once this season and allowed two runs over seven innings in a no-decision. He’s held lefties to a .186 batting average; righties have hit .303.
4. Martin debuts
One positive from Tuesday’s game was Ethan Martin’s relief debut. The hard-throwing, walk-prone right-hander pitched a perfect sixth inning, and all 10 pitches he threw were strikes. Not bad.
5. Righty-heavy lineup
Stults’ extreme platoon splits forced Ryne Sandberg to give Chase Utley a night off and bat lefty-masher Kevin Frandsen third. The only left-handed bat in the Phils’ lineup Wednesday belongs to Cody Asche, who’s 7 for 21 with a homer and a double against southpaws.
The lineup is as follows:
1) Cesar Hernandez, CF
2) Jimmy Rollins, SS
3) Kevin Frandsen, 1B
4) Carlos Ruiz, C
5) Darin Ruf, LF
6) Cody Asche, 3B
7) Freddy Galvis, 2B
8) John Mayberry, RF
9) Cliff Lee, P