Phils vs Marlins Preview

Carlos Ruiz brings a sizzling hot bat to the cleanup spot tonight

Carlos Ruiz brings a sizzling hot bat to the cleanup spot tonight

After losing two three to the Washington Nationals, the Phillies (69-80) come home to take on the last place Miami Marlins (55-94). The Marlins have lost eight of their last 10 games in what has to be one of the worst offensive teams assembled in the last quarter century. They’ve been shut out by their opponents 17 times and have scored 3 or less runs 95 times in 149 games. They’ve scored the fewest runs in the NL with just 479. Offensively they’re even worse on the road, where the Marlins have scored 217 runs in 74 games – good for a 2.93 runs per game average. The Marlins rank 15th out of 15 teams in many statistical categories; runs, hits, doubles, HR’s, BA, OBP and SLG.

That’s not to say the Phils are an offensive juggernaut. The Phils have been shut out 13 times and have scored 3 runs or less in 79 games. In the same categories where the Marlins have finished last, the Phils have finished as follows: runs (14th), hits (10th) doubles (11th), HR’s (8th), BA (10), OBP (12th) and SLG (11th). One offensive bright spot for the Phils has been the recent play of Carlos Ruiz. In 35 games since August 1st, Ruiz has posted a slash line of .350/.400/.550 with 16 XBH’s and 23 RBI’s in 120 AB’s. With the free agent catching market as thin as it is, it looks more and more like Ruiz will be back next year.

Tonight’s match up of Sam Dyson 0-0, 4.50 ERA vs. a hot Cliff Lee 13-6, 2.97 ERA looks to be an easy win for the Phils. However the words easy and win don’t often collide in the same sentence when talking about the Phils this year. Dyson has spent the majority of time this year in the minors where he is 4-11, 2.67 ERA in 21 starts across three different leagues. The 25 year-old righty has only pitched eight innings in three relief appearances for the Marlins. Dyson was a former 4th round draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 draft and was picked up off the waiver wire in January of this year.

Cliff Lee comes into tonight’s game looking for his 16th WG (7+ IP, 2 ER or less) of the season. A WG for Lee tonight would tie him for 2nd in the NL with the Cardinals Adam Wainwright, who pitched his 16th WG Friday night against the Seattle Mariners. Lee is 2-0 with a ND in his last three starts. He’s gone eight strong the last two times out and has pitched to a 2.14 ERA and 0.952 WHIP in his last three starts. After recording the first out of the night Lee will have crossed the 200 IP threshold for the 6th straight season. Since being acquired as a free agent after the 2010 season Lee has gone 36-23 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP. He’s been a model of consistency as he takes the mound for the 91st time since returning to the Phils in 2011.

Tomorrow night the Marlins will send 6′ 7′ left hander Brian Flynn 0-1, 10.13 ERA to the hill to face the Phils Roy Halladay 3-4, 7.28 ERA. Flynn is another recent rookie call up who’s been knocked around in his two starts with the Marlins. In eight innings he’s surrendered 12 hits, 9 ER, 9 BB’s and 3 HR’s in just 8 innings. In 23 AAA starts and 4 AA starts he is 7-12, 2.63 ERA this year. He originally came over to the Marlins as part of the package that sent Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers originally drafted Flynn in the 7th round of the 2011 draft.

Roy Halladay will be making his 5th start since coming back from shoulder surgery in May. In his last start Halladay couldn’t get through the 5th inning as he allowed 4 hits, 5 runs – 4 of which were earned, and 5 BB’s while striking out 6 in 4.1 innings. Doc’s still having trouble locating pitches and he had to throw 101 pitches his last game just to record 13 outs. The saddest part about watching Doc pitch this month is that he wouldn’t be pitching at all if he had a contract next season. It’s as if he feels the need to go out and prove himself. What else could be motivating him at this juncture? At age 36, the best pitcher of his era is now auditioning for a job next year, however I’m not sure what’s being accomplished. He’s showing he’s healthy enough to go out and pitch every 5 days, but not effectively.

On Wednesday night the Marlins have lefty Brad Hand 0-1, 3.18 ERA taking on the Phils fading Kyle Kendrick 10-13, 4.70 ERA. Hand is yet another pitcher who’s spent the majority of the season pitching in the minors. In 15 AAA starts Hand is 3-5, 3.42 ERA that’s averaging just a hair under a strikeout per inning. The 23 year-old lefty is a former 2nd round pick of the Marlins back in the 2008 draft. In four appearances for the Marlins Hand has one start and has come out of the pen three times. Hand throws a fastball approximately 65% of his pitches and mixes in a curveball and change up in equal proportions the remaining 35% of the time. Hand’s fastball averages about 92 mph.

Here we go again with Kyle Kendrick. It seems as if every time he takes the ball the past couple months it’s another attempt to prove he’s worthy of coming back next year. It will be interesting to see how Amaro handles Kendrick in the offseason. The best way to describe Kendrick’s pitching lately has been shaky – at best. In his last 10 starts he’s only pitched 51.2 innings and given up 71 hits and 38 ER for a 6.62 ERA. Maybe he’ll get healthy Wednesday night against a weak hitting Marlin team, but what will that show us? What happened to the pitcher that went 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA in his last 10 starts last year and followed that up with a 4-1 record and a 2.47 ERA the first eight starts this season? With just three starts remaining this year the only thing left for Kendrick to do is let it all hang out and see if he can get to 200 IP. If he can win his last three starts he can at least get back to .500 for the season.

With the 14th and 15th rated teams in runs scored facing each other we shouldn’t expect to see a lot of runs scored, but with the Marlins throwing three young kids with very little major league experience, it’s hard to make any predictions.Then the flip side of that coin has the Phils throwing a sinking Kyle Kendrick and a struggling Roy Halladay, so expect the unexpected. Tonight’s game with Cliff Lee looks to be the only predictable game. With that said I’d expect the unexpected tonight also.  

***UPDATE***

Kyle Kendrick has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday night start due to to shoulder soreness. The Phils will use Zach Miner 0-1, 3.72 ERA to make the spot start. According to manager Ryne Sandberg Kendricks has been experiencing shoulder soreness for a couple weeks, but not so much that he couldn’t pitch. In what he called a “precautionary move” Sandberg said Kendrick would undergo an MRI to “free his mind” saying Kendrick is able to do all his exercises and if needed, could pitch.

Kendrick has been struggling for several months now. He finished last year strong going 7-3, 2.43 ERA in his last 10 starts. He picked up where he left off last year by starting the 2013 season 4-1, 2.34 ERA in his first eight starts. He had 11 WG (7+ IP, 2 ER or less) in his first 19 starts through July 11th this year and looked as if he finally arrived as a starter after bouncing back and forth between starting and coming out of the bullpen since 2009. In his last 11 starts since the All-Star break Kendrick is 2-7 with a 6.91 ERA. He’s allowed 80 hits and 44 ER while only pitching 57.1 innings.

Kendrick has never been on the disabled list his entire pro career, both major and minor leagues. He’s entering his final year of arbitration and will be coming off a $4,500,000 contract. The Phillies have three options concerning Kendrick. They can bring him back on a one year deal, whether it be negotiated or through the arbitration process, sign him to a multi-year contract or non tender him, effectively making Kendrick a free agent for the first time in his career.

Lifetime, Kendrick is 64-55 with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.369 WHIP. He’s pitched 939.2 innings in his career, all as a Phillie. The 29 year old righty has started 153 games and made 41 relief appearances since being called up in June, 2007.

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About yougottalovethepain

I'm a long time sports fan that's passionate about Philly sports. I agree with Vince Lombardi when he said "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing". To win, you gotta love the pain and do what your competitors aren't willing to do.

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