Rivalry Week (Batteries Not Included)
I bet he totally checks out the Mint while he’s here.
“Hopefully I get a couple boos,” he told reporters yesterday. “That’d be awesome. … Hopefully they don’t throw any batteries at me or whatnot. We’ll see.”
Harper is ready for the series. We’ll see if the Phillies are, too. They lost momentum with a pair of losses this weekend against the Red Sox, going 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position. They play their next 20 games against teams with winning records, so they need to improve quickly in that department because there is far less margin for error against teams playing much better baseball than the Padres, Cubs and Red Sox.
The Phillies and Nationals are similar teams in a lot of ways. The Phillies are tied for seventh in the National League, averaging 4.07 runs per game. The Nationals are tied for 11th (3.78). The Phillies are fourth in batting (.265), eighth in on-base percentage (.317) and sixth in slugging (.391). The Nationals are 10th in batting (.245), eighth in on-base percentage (.317) and seventh in slugging (.390). The Nationals rank second in starter’s ERA (2.77), while the Phillies are third (3.16). Phillies starters are first in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.65). The Nationals are second (3.85). Nationals starters are first in WHIP (1.03). The Phillies are second (1.11).
The biggest separation between these two teams is the bullpen. The Nationals bullpen is fifth in ERA (3.26), while the Phillies are 14th (4.89). And that’s after the Phillies bullpen compiled a 3.04 ERA in its last 10 games, holding opponents to a .179 average.
But this is a series the Phillies should win. They’re home. They have played better lately. They have Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels pitching the final two games of the series. And they have plenty of motivation following the last series against the Nationals, losing two of three, Hamels drilling Harper in the back, Mike Rizzo calling Hamels “fake tough,” Jayson Werth saying it is his life’s mission to keep Phillies fans from celebrating another parade down Broad Street.
I can’t remember the last time the Phillies had an early-season series with such potential. Division rivals. Bad blood. Harper. Hamels. Should be fun.
Thought Carlos Ruiz would pinch-hit for Ty Wigginton yesterday, but sending Joe Blanton back out to pitch Saturday confused me more. … So Placido Polanco doesn’t have a sore left knee. It’s a sore ankle. … So Vance Worley said he also has a bone chip in his right elbow, and it is something he’ll have to pitch through the remainder of the season.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- June 16: Barnes & Noble, 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., 2:00 p.m.