Phillies-Cardinals: What you need to know

Phillies-Cardinals: What you need to know
April 20, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Phillies (7-10) vs. Cardinals (9-7)
7:05 p.m. – TCN

The Phillies finally walked, they finally scored in the game’s first four innings, they finally got to Jaime Garcia, they finally won. Eight runs and a second consecutive solid start from Roy Halladay ended a four-game skid and evened the Phils’ four-game set with St. Louis at a game apiece.

Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.52) looks to give the Phillies a series advantage on Saturday night.

In four starts vs. the Cards as a Phillie, Lee is 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA. He very uncharacteristically walked six Cardinals in a game in 2011, and two of his seven three-plus walk games as a Phillie (in 77 outings) have come against St. Louis.

Matt Holliday, who homered Friday night, has done well against Lee – 4 for 12, HR, six walks and no strikeouts.

Carlos Beltran, who also homered Friday night, has not – 3 for 19, five Ks.

Yadier Molina and Allen Craig have also had some success against the lefty, going a combined 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles.

Impeccable control
Unlike Halladay, who has thrown a first-pitch strike to just 27 of the last 54 batters he faced, Lee is again consistently getting ahead of hitters. His 73.3 percent first-pitch strike rate leads the majors.

Lee, too, led MLB in first-pitch strikes in 2012 and in 2010.

But the most impressive Lee control stat might be that he’s thrown more strikes in three starts than four starters – Alexi Ogando, Joe Saunders, Edinson Volquez and Brett Anderson – have thrown in four starts.

Scouting Lance Lynn
Opposing Lee and the Phillies will be the Cardinals’ 6-foot-5 right-hander. Lynn last season went 18-7 with a 3.76 ERA and 180 Ks in 176 IP. So far this year he’s 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 15 innings.

Lynn dominated the Reds in his second start – 10 Ks, one run over six innings at home – but struggled in both road starts, allowing eight runs and 19 baserunners in nine innings.

Lynn’s command can be shaky. He’s walked at least one batter in 32 of 34 career starts, at least two 24 times and at least three 12 times. In his only start against the Phillies he allowed four runs in five innings and was taken out to left-center by Ryan Howard.

Lynn throws a 92-94 mph four-seam fastball just over half the time, a sinker at 90-92 about 22 percent of the time and a high-70s curveball once every 10 or so pitches. He also mixes in the occasional cutter and changeup to a lefty. He uses his offspeed stuff much more to lefties than to righties.

He’s thrown the changeup on the first pitch to just five percent of the lefties he’s faced, the Phils don’t have to worry about him pitching backwards.

The sinker is his best pitch in a jam, since 65 percent of the sinkers put into play against him have been on the ground. But it’s also the pitch lefties (.369 BA) see the best.

Ailing Pieces
Ryan Howard missed Friday’s game with a groin strain, but it could have just been a convenient way to load the lineup with righties against Garcia. Howard was 2 for 12 with six Ks against Garcia and 1 for 15 with nine strikeouts against lefties this season, so the night off didn’t hurt.

Domonic Brown (back) also missed Friday’s game, his second straight, but could be back in the lineup Saturday.

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