"You hear Howard comes back today?" "Yeah, there go our chances of enjoying the pre-game spread."
After splitting a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta hits the road to finish the first half of the season with a three-game series against the struggling Phillies.
Philadelphia enters having lost eight of its last nine games, and sits 13 games back of the division leading Washington Nationals in the NL East. Injuries have hampered the Phillies, but this was already a team that had major question marks before the injuries occurred.
As a team, the Phillies rank third in the National League in batting average (.265), eighth in on-base average (.319), eighth in slugging (.407), sixth in wOBA (.318), and sixth in wRC+ (97).
Individually, it all starts with catcher Carlos Ruiz. Having already eclipsed the 4-fWAR barrie, Ruiz is hitting .355/.419/.596 with a .430 wOBA, 173 wRC+, and .241 ISO. He really should be starting the All-Star game, but that's a whole different story.
Hunter Pence is hitting .287/.351/.489, with a .361 wOBA and 126 wRC+. It's worth noting that his defense has been below average according to defensive runs saved (-7). Jimmy Rollins enters sporting a line of .262/.318/.414 with a .321 wOBA and 99 wRC+.
Shane Victorino has seen a big drop in his power numbers in what is his contract year. He's hitting .247/.313/.373 with a .312 wOBA and 93 wRC+. Juan Pierre is sporting a high average, but nothing else as his .317/..355/.387 line shows.
Pitching matchups after the jump.
Friday July 6th, 7:05 PM ET
Game one of the series pits Tim Hudson against Kyle Kendrick. On the year, Kendrick is 2-8 with a 5.35 ERA, 4.80 FIP, and 4.84 xFIP. He has a K/9 of 6.32 and a BB/9 of 3.53. Kendrick has very pedestrian stuff, starting with a sinker that averages just over 90 miles per hour. He doesn't miss many bats with it at all. Kendrick works off that sinker, throwing it 44-percent of time. In addition to that, he throws a cutter, change, and a breaking ball. His cutter is his second most used offering, throwing it 30-percent of the time at an average velocity of almost 87 miles per hour. The change, which he throws 18-percent of time, is his best swing and miss offering. The pitch has a whiff rate of 23-percent on it.
Saturday July 7th, 7:15 PM ET
Atlanta faces Joe Blanton in game two, who threw an 88 pitch shutout against the Braves in May. He enters this weekend at 7-7 with a 4.85 ERA, 4.26 FIP, and 3.45 xFIP. Blanton also surprisingly leads the National League K/BB ratio at 5.93. He sports a K/9 of 7.70 and a BB/9 of 1.30. In terms of his arsenal, Blanton features six offerings that he throws at least 10-percent of the time each. He works off of his sinker, which averages just over 90 miles per hour. He throws it 34-percent of the time. Blanton also features, a four-seam, cutter, change, curve, and slider. The change is his best swing and miss offering, with a whiff rate over 23-percent. He'll also throw the pitch more against left-handed batters.
Sunday July 8th, 1:35 ET
The Braves face Vance Worley in game three, and Worley enters at 4-5 with a .346 ERA, 3.72 FIP, and 3.43 xFIP. He's striking out almost eight batters per nine innings, while walking exactly three per nine. Worley is primarily four-seam/sinker/slider, but also will mix in an occasional curve. His four-seam averages almost 91 miles per hour, while his sinker averages about the same. The slider is his best swing and miss pitch, with a whiff rate of almost 10-percent, and a whiff/swing rate of over 21-percent.
***All pitch data comes from brooksbaseball.net***