Phillies vs. Marlins Series Preview with Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley
Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley stopped by once again to help preview the upcoming Marlins vs. Phillies series. We’re only four games into the season, yet there is still a ton to cover from this past weekend and project for this week’s games, and Bill did an excellent job previewing it for us.
1. The Phillies’ MVP this season will be _____.
Any one of the “big three” starters: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. Hamels was my Cy Young pick, so I’ll go with him. I expect all three to finish in the top-five in NL Cy Young voting for the second consecutive year.
2. Does Vance Worley have a chance to build on last season’s success and possibly pitch even better this year?
Yeah, absolutely. It isn’t the most likely scenario, but he has been improving his cut fastball and he added a change-up grip handed down from God himself, Roy Halladay. He also has that devastating two-seam fastball that hitters took for called strike threes at an alarming rate last year.
3. You asked me this duo of questions so I’ll return them: which hitter has most impressed you through four games? Which pitcher?
Carlos Ruiz has been on fire throughout spring training and into his first two games. He hit .479 in spring and has four hits in his first six at-bats in the regular season. Many thought Ruiz’s offense was padded by hitting eighth in the batting order. When you hit in front of your pitcher, opposing pitchers are more likely to try to pitch around you, so his .400 OBP in 2010 and .371 last year were presumed to be gaudy. Obviously, Ruiz won’t keep up this pace all year, but if he continues to hit well, he may warrant hitting even higher in the batting order — something the more Saber inclined among us have been calling for already.
Roy Halladay has been the most impressive pitcher so far, which should surprise no one. He didn’t have his best stuff on Opening Day and even struggled early, allowing the first two hitters he faced to reach in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, from that point forward, he held the Pirates hitless, allowing base runners only on two hit batters. If Halladay is that dominant when he’s not even 100%, imagine what he’ll look like in the middle of the season.
4. Which hitter has least impressed you through four games? Which pitcher?
Freddy Galvis has been the least impressive. He wasn’t expected to be a big contributor to the offense, but he has done nothing to inspire confidence thus far. He is 0-for-10 thus far, including two double plays. All of the contact he has made has been weak, and he appears to be guessing at the plate. On several occasions, he has been very late on fastballs in fastball counts. He will learn as he goes, but hopefully he picks it up quickly.
The least impressive pitcher has been Cliff Lee. Like Halladay, he didn’t have his best stuff in his Opening Day debut but managed to fight his way through the game with little damage anyway. Lee, though, had uncharacteristic wildness with his fastball, missing high and outside to right-handed hitters frequently. Last year, seven out of ten of Lee’s fastballs went for strikes, but it was roughly six out of ten on Saturday. Obviously, it’s one start and I’m not worried in the least, but Lee simply wasn’t that good.
5. Did Cliff Lee’s first start change your opinion on him in any way?
6. With the absences of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, how much will it hurt the Phillies until they return?
It’s going to hurt, particularly the loss of Utley. Utley does everything — he hits, he runs, and he plays the best defense of any second baseman in baseball. Galvis is certainly slick with the glove and significantly more athletic, but he doesn’t have Utley’s positioning acumen yet, so the Phillies are still losing something on defense. And, obviously, Galvis won’t come close to replacing Utley’s bat.
The loss of Howard will barely be felt. The combination of Jim Thome, John Mayberry, and Ty Wigginton at first base. while not ideal, will help the Phillies tread water in the big man’s absence.
7. How do you see the series playing out?
I see the Phillies winning the Hamels and Halladay starts, and dropping the Blanton start. The Phillies have hit Buerhle hard in a small sample (5.06 ERA in 21.1 IP) but he is the type of pitcher this lineup will struggle against — a slop-throwing lefty with good control.
Thanks to Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley for dropping by. Be sure to follow Bill on Twitter @CrashburnAlley