Michael Bourn and the Braves welcome Philadelphia to town for a three-game set.
After splitting a four-game set against Pittsburgh, Atlanta welcomes division rival Philadelphia to town for a three-game series. Coming into the series, the Phillies are 11-12, 3.5 games back of the N.L. East leading Washington Nationals.
The Phillies offense has struggled tremendously so far in 2012. They rank 12th in the National League in runs scored (76), eighth in batting average (.247), 14th in on-base average (.293), 12th in slugging percentage (.347), 12th in wOBA (.286), and 13th in wRC+ (78).
Individually, the only players really hitting well are Carlos Ruiz, who has a line of .313/.343/.516, and Ty Wiggington. Wigginton is hitting .322/.379/.475 on the year. Shane Victorino leads the team in home runs with four, but his overall line of .228/.276/.380 is a far cry from his usual.
Hunter Pence is hitting .253/.293/.391 so far.
Surprisingly, Juan Pierre isn't doing half bad, sporting a line of .318/.357/.348, but most of that is thanks to a .328 BABIP. Second baseman Freddy Galvis has been tremendous with the glove, but looks completely over-matched against big-league pitching. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins also has struggled, putting up a line of .235/.283/.271 so far in 2012.
The team's best bench bat has been Laynce Nix, who is hitting .276/.382/.517 in 34 plate appearances.
After the jump, a breakdown of the pitching match-ups and a look at the Phillies bullpen.
Tuesday May 1, 7:10 PM ET
Game one's pitching match-up is fantastic, with Cole Hamels taking on Brandon Beachy. So far, Hamels has incredibly good, going 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA, 2.11 FIP, and 2.27 xFIP. He's got a K/9 over 10, a BB/9 barely over one, and a K/BB ratio right at 10. According to Brooks Baseball, Hamels has been mainly fastball, cutter, change-up in 2012, with a curveball mixed in every now and then. His change-up has been tremendous this season, as he's been able to generate a 34.78 whiff % with it. In his last start, Hamels retired 18 in a row at one point against the Diamondbacks, going eight innings, four hits, two runs (earned), seven strikeouts, and one walk. Atlanta will have its work cut out for it against the lefty.
Wednesday May 2nd, 7:10 PM ET
Game two gives us another great pitching match-up, with Roy Halladay facing Tommy Hanson. Halladay has seen an early drop in velocity this year, down two miles an hour on his sinker and cutter, but still has been effective. He is 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA, 2.63 FIP, and 3.84 xFIP. The big drop so far has been in his strikeouts, as he's only striking out 5.84 batters per nine innings, while walking 2.43 per nine. As usual, Halladay has been working primarily off his cutter, throwing it 48-percent of the time. His number two pitch has been his curveball, followed by the splitter, which has generated most of his swing and misses. In Halladay's last outing, he went seven innings against the Cubs, giving up six hits and three runs (earned) while striking out five and walking two.
Thursday May 3rd, 12:10 PM ET
Game three gives us Joe Blanton vs. Randall Delgado. On the year, Blanton is 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA, 2.76 FIP, and 3.62 xFIP. He's not going to blow you away velocity wise, as he only gets his fastball up to just over 90 miles per hour. Striking out just over five per nine innings while walking just over one per nine, the ball is going to be around the plate. The Braves will have plenty of chances to put it in play and take some good swings. Primarily, he works off of his sinker with three off-speed options, a curve, change, and slider. In his last outing, he went 7.1 innings against the Cubs, allowing eight hits, two earned runs, and striking out eight.
Jonathan Papelbon - RH (CL)
Chad Qualls -RH
Antonio Bastardo - LH
Jose Contreras -RH
David Herndon -RH
Joe Savery -LH
Michael Schwimer - RH