1. When and where
Coming off a three-game sweep of the Braves, the Phillies (66-77) return to work Tuesday in the first of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres (65-77). The Padres are also coming off a home sweep (over the Rockies) and have won five of six.
2. Playing it close
It’s a shame the Phillies didn’t have this much success in one-run games when games actually mattered.
Dating back to Aug. 6, the Phillies are 12-2 in games decided by one run. Prior to that, they were 13-21 in one-run games.
The difference has been the back end of the bullpen. Jake Diekman and B.J. Rosenberg have each pitched markedly better in August and September than they did in the first half.
Diekman has a 2.20 ERA since the beginning of August, with 20 strikeouts and eight walks in 16 1/3 innings. His opponents have hit .120.
Rosenberg has made 11 straight scoreless appearances, striking out 10 over 9 2/3 innings with a .121 opponents’ batting average.
Twenty of those 27 combined appearances have been in the eighth inning or later.
3. Cloyd returns to the rotation
Tyler Cloyd returns to the Phillies’ rotation to take the spot of Ethan Martin, who was moved to the bullpen last week. In eight appearances (seven starts) with the Phils this year, Cloyd is 2-3 with a 3.57 ERA.
Cloyd has allowed two runs or fewer in five of seven starts. In his lone relief appearance, he held the Diamondbacks scoreless for five innings in the game Casper Wells eventually lost.
Cloyd had a rough April, May and June at Triple A Lehigh Valley but recovered over his final 10 starts, posting a 1.82 ERA while averaging more than six innings. He probably doesn’t fit into the Phillies’ 2014 rotation plans, but if he can have a solid September he can help stake a claim to a spot starting role.
4. Cashing in
Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner is one tough customer, especially lately. Cashner (8-8, 3.45) has a 2.25 ERA over his last six starts and has allowed just one home run in 40 innings during that span.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Texan throws a fastball in the mid-high 90s, a changeup, slider and curve. The fastball has held opponents to a .221 average this season, making it his best pitch. He likes the changeup against lefties even though they’ve hit .333 off in 2013.
Cashner is much worse against opposite-handed hitters, so expect Ryne Sandberg to flood the Phillies’ lineup with lefties. Cashner has held righties to a .229/.286/.330 batting line, but lefties have hit .270/.331/.416.
The Phils have seen Cashner six times as a reliever but never as a starter.
5. Ruf’s power
Darin Ruf’s game-winning homer Sunday was his 13th of the season and his 16th in 256 career major-league plate appearances. That’s a homer every 16 trips to the dish.
Over a 162-game season, those numbers project out to 39 homers and a .534 slugging percentage, which more than make up for any defensive deficiencies.
Ruf strikes out too much -- he has 68 this year, accounting for 48 percent of his outs -- but his power is too valuable to ignore, especially for a team that hasn’t seen Ryan Howard hit more than 33 homers or slug better than .505 since the year they lost to the Yankees in the World Series.
1. When and where