Here are this week's pitching probables. The Phils will finish off their road trip in Los Angeles, then enjoy a long-awaited off-day as they travel back to the East Coast, and finally open up a six-game homestand this weekend against the Nationals.
The good news about the Dodgers series is that the Phillies will miss 23-year-old Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw. The bad news is that the Phillies will not miss longtime nemesis Hiroki Kuroda, who will start the series opener. Kuroda has quietly carved out a very successful career for himself in MLB since coming over from Japan in 2008, and has always given the Phillies' lineup fits (the only exception being Game 3 of the 2009 NLCS, when the Phils pounded him - but that was his first game back from an injury). He's arguably having the worst season of his North American career this year, but he's still been pretty decent.
More below the jump:
- This is the third straight year that Chad Billingsley's K rate has declined. He hasn't pitched terribly or anything, but I think his numbers are pretty disappointing for a guy who showed a lot of promise early in his career and should be in his absolute prime right now.
- Vance Worley's peripherals just keep getting better as the year goes on.
- I'm not sure if this article about Kuroda is interesting or oversimplistic, but check it out. Combined lifetime regular season numbers vs. Kuroda for the Phils' eight regular starters: 10 for 78, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 BB, 19 K.
- Fun with head-to-head stats department: Andre Ethier vs. Roy Halladay 5 for 7, 1 2B, 1 HR, 0 K, 2.063 OPS. Rod Barajas vs. Cliff Lee 0 for 15, .063 OPS. Roy Oswalt vs. Ian Desmond 0 for 13, .000 OPS. Roy Oswalt vs. Laynce Nix 10 for 20, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 1.724 OPS.
- He isn't a pitcher, but wow, has James Loney ever been terrible at the plate this year. A first baseman with a 70 wRC+ in over 400 PA? That's a team killer. He actually rebounded from an awful start to post acceptable splits in May and June, but his July/August slash line is .170/.211/.250 in 96 PA (that's a wRC+ around 20). Ouch.
- It's nice to see Chien-Ming Wang back in the majors. It'll be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank after all this time. He always benefited from huge run support when he was recording 19-win seasons for the Yankees, but at the same time he was still a legitimately competent starting pitcher, mainly because he was a ground ball inducing machine.
- John Lannan. Nuff said.