Philadelphia Phillies (40-34) at Cincinnati Reds (43-34)
Joe Blanton, RHP (3-5, 6.53 ERA) vs. Mike Leake, RHP (5-1, 2.92 ERA)
Time: 7:10, Great American Ballpark
Weather: Sunny, 77
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Well, the Phillies did not anticipate beginning their final first half road trip like this.
In Monday night’s series opener, an uninspiring 7-3 loss to the Reds was coupled with a thumb injury damaging enough to force Chase Utley out of the game. Utley, attempting to stretch a single into a double, sprained his thumb sliding into second base in the fourth inning but remained in the game until the top of the ninth.
Chase later had trouble gripping the bat, and made an atypical fielding error that most certainly was a result of the injury.
Trips to the DL for Utley and Placido Polanco (elbow) leave the Phillies in a precarious position. The team was forced to call up Greg Dobbs (2-for-17 in Triple-A) and middle infielder Brian Bocock (.179/.239/.231 in 237 awful plate appearances at Lehigh Valley.)
Now that the depressing news is out of the way, let’s focus on tonight’s game. As I stated yesterday, the Phillies should hit Mike Leake. The rookie righthander has been very effective this season, but his success is over-exaggerated by an extremely high left on-base rate.
For the season, Leake has a middling 1.41 WHIP and has stranded 80% of his baserunners, almost 10% better than the rest of the league. While a glance at this number may lead you to believe that Leake has simply beared down with men on, it should be noted that even the best pitchers lack some sort of “skill” to consistently maintain such lofty strand rates.
Leake, who has been considerably worse at Great American Ballpark than on the road, has allowed more than three runs only three times in fourteen starts, but two of those outings took place in his last three times out (five runs apiece at home to the Dodgers and Giants.)
Leake throws the following five pitches, with the percentage of how often he throws each following in parentheses:
- High-80s fastball (51% of the time),
- Low-80s slider (20%),
- High-80s cutter (11%),
- Low-80s changeup (10%),
- Mid-70s curveball (8%).
Look for Leake’s changeup to be used more frequently tonight, because the Phillies first four hitters, and six of nine overall, are lefties.
As for the Phils, Joe Blanton will look to build upon two solid outings. Things haven’t been easy for Kentucky Fried Starter in 2010, as he started the season on the DL, came back and pitched well but had nothing to show for it, then went through a horrific stretch of four poor starts in a row.
Blanton is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in thirteen lifetime innings against the Reds, and, despite allowing five runs in five innings, got a win in his only career start at Great American Ballpark.
Tonight’s home plate umpire will be the universally despised CB Bucknor. In his career, Blanton has struggled in the three starts in which Bucknor stood behind home plate – allowing ten runs in 16 innings of work.
Obviously, this could mean nothing – Blanton could have simply faced good competition or failed to make pitches in those games, but it seems worthy of a note.
LINEUP: Victorino CF, Dobbs 3B, Rollins SS, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Schneider C, Valdez 3B, Blanton P
Your Gameday Beer- Konigshoeven Blond Trappist Ale
Tonight’s beer kicks off our European tour and comes from the De Koningshoeven Brewery, a Dutch Trappist brewery. It is the only producer of Trappist beer outside of Belgium. Run inside an abbey, the monks get the water for the beer from five 200-metre deep wells on the grounds. La Trappe Blond is one of their many offerings. This Pale Ale is bitter and sweet like fruit candy, but less sweet by comparison to the more popular Leffe Blonde. – By Brian