Lee vs. Gee: Phillies Try to Block Mets Sweep

Lee vs. Gee: Phillies Try to Block Mets Sweep

Cliff Lee returns from the 15-day disabled list tonight, just in time to attempt to stave off an embarrassing three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets -- but can our hero succeed?

Lee failed to pick up a win in his previous three outings this season, a victim of non-existent run support and bullpen woes behind him. It's almost as if he's been fighting a battle at two fronts out there, dueling his own mates while staring down the enemy.

The Phillies managed to score only three runs over Lee's starts, while the pen failed to hold on in extra innings twice. In fact, the last time we saw Clifton, he was being all kinds of awesome for 10 frames of shutout ball, only to watch the game slip away in the 11th, a depressing 1-0 loss in San Francisco.

Lee is 0-1 with a 1.96 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 18 Ks. Coincidentally, he picked up the loss against the Mets on April 13, striking out seven over seven, but done in by a pair of long balls. Last season, he was 1-0 with a .064 ERA in two appearances against New York.

Gee-Unit
The Ny Mets squadron will toss Dillon Gee, a righthander working through his second full season in the bigs. He's 2-2 with a 4.50 in 2012, but he's been strong in his last two trips, going win and no decision while lowering his earned run average from 5.21.

Gee has had mixed results when facing the Fightins. He pulled out a W the last time they clashed, allowing nine hits, but holding Philly to two earned over six innings in a 6-3 victory on September 24. However, he got shelled on August 22, accepting responsibility for eight runs in a 10-0 final.

Lifetime, Gee is 2-1 with a 7.85 ERA versus the Phils.

Batter vs. Pitcher
Gee stands a bit better of a chance tonight though, as he's had the most trouble handling Ryan Howard (2 HR, 6 RBI), who obviously remains unavailable.

Among the guys in tonight's lineup, Jimmy Rollins is still batting 1.000 against Gee (3 H, 1 BB), and Shane Victorino has been an all-around terror (.500 OBP, 2 RBI, 1 SB). John Mayberry is the only active member in the clubhouse who has taken Gee deep, a three-run blast for his only hit.

Inside the Box Score: The Month of May-berry?
Speaking of the enigma, after mostly watching baseball in the latter half of April, Mayberry has been seeing more opportunities recently. He's started both games of this series against the Mets, going 3-for-7 with a run and an RBI. For the month of May, Mayberry is 5-for-18 (.278), and has crossed home plate four times while bumping his season average up 20 points to .224.

A sign of things to come? We'll see. Mayberry still has just three extra-base hits and 3 RBI in 2012, with 21 strikeouts to one lousy walk, so the stroke isn't all there yet. We'll see how he progresses.

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.

Pete Mackanin will push to add hitter in meeting with front-office brass Friday

Pete Mackanin will push to add hitter in meeting with front-office brass Friday

ATLANTA — The Phillies entered Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves — No. 157 of 162 — ranked last in the majors in runs scored (591) and were hanging out near the bottom in a slew of other important offensive categories.
 
The stat sheet says the Phillies need more offense.
 
So does the manager.
 
Pete Mackanin plans to make his case for adding a bat this winter — the best fit would be in the outfield — in an end-of-season meeting with the front office Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
 
“Basically, having talked to the rest of the coaching staff, we’re all pretty much in agreement with what our needs are,” Mackanin said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m anxious to hear from (general manager) Matt Klentak and from (president) Andy MacPhail and if there’s an owner there. We’d like to hear what they have to say. We’re pretty much in agreement on a lot of what we need.
 
“I, for one, think we need at least one hitter that gives you quality at-bats.”
 
There could be hurdles in adding a bat. Money is not one of them. All of the team’s big contracts will be gone when Ryan Howard rides off into the sunset on Sunday. The team that spent over a half-billion in salaries from 2012 to 2014 (and missed the playoffs each time) has plenty of money and has vowed to spend it in due time. But that time might not arrive until team leaders believe the club has built a nucleus that would benefit from the signing of a "finishing" talent or two. The team is committed to building that nucleus from within, and there lies the potential hurdle in adding the difference-making bat that Mackanin craves. Building from within requires eventually giving players from the system an opportunity to prove themselves and grow at the major-league level. The front office, still very much committed to a rebuild, will be cognizant of blocking those players (the list includes Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens and others) and their opportunities. Klentak has said as much on several occasions this year.
 
Even Mackanin acknowledged that the situation is a Catch-22.
 
“I know I don’t want to block a prospect that has a chance to be a big part of it,” he said.
 
“But at the same time, I think by having one guy in the middle of the lineup or somewhere in the lineup that can take a little pressure off (Maikel) Franco and (Odubel) Herrera and the rest of them could do wonders. You look at when (Matt) Kemp joined the Braves. They all went off. They’re all hitting. They’ve scored more runs than anybody, I think, since the All-Star break. Last year, with (Yoenis) Cespedes, he joined the Mets and all of a sudden they all started hitting.
 
“I will give those examples. I feel that’s important.”
 
A number of outfield bats will be on the free-agent market this winter. Cespedes could be there if he opts out of his contract with the Mets, but he’s not likely to be interested in joining a rebuilding team and the Phillies are unlikely to want the long-term commitment a player like that would require. Dexter Fowler and Matt Holiday could be free agents if their options for 2017 are not exercised. Ian Desmond will be out there, but the Rangers will probably look to retain him. Jose Bautista, Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss and Colby Rasmus will also be out there. Martin Prado is the type of “professional hitter” that would appeal to Mackanin, but he agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.