Having been victorious in three out of four games against the Indians, the Boston Red Sox (31-20, tied for first in the AL East) take on the Philadelphia Phillies (24-26, third place in NL East, 6.5 games back) in a four-game home-and-home series starting at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have won their last three games and are 7-3 in their last 10 games, while the Phillies lost their last game and are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
Tyler Cloyd (facing Alfredo Aceves in the Boston opener) has pitched well in two spot starts this season. He’s put up a pitching line of 2.70 ERA/2.84 FIP/4.22 xFIP, and notably, he hasn’t given up any homers in 13.1 innings. Cloyd’s main weapon is an 84 mph cutter, and he maxes out at about 87 mph on his four-seam fastball. He hasn’t struck out many batters (6.08 per nine innings) and probably walks too many (3.38 per nine) to sustain his success. Cloyd’s BABIP in 2013 is a touch low at .263, but small sample size is definitely in effect.
Cliff Lee (against Ryan Dempster) is having yet another good season but there are warning signs on the horizon. On the good side of the ledger, his pitching line is 2.48 ERA/3.02 FIP/3.75 xFIP, and he’s only surrendered homers at a 6.0% rate per fly ball. On the bad side, Lee’s strike out rate has declined by 2 per nine innings over 2012 (6.81 in 2013, 8.83 in 2012), he’s walking more batters (1.61 per nine versus 1.13 in 2012), and his ground ball rate has also declined (38.3% in 2013, 45.0% in 2012). Also, Lee has lost a few mph on his fastball (89.9 mph four-seamer and 90.7 mph two-seamer in 2013, 91.7 mph four-seamer and 91.6 two-seamer in 2012). If the Phillies start selling assets, the line for Lee could be long.
Kyle Kendrick (versus John Lackey in the Philadelphia opener) should be worse than he is, according to the statistics, but somehow he eludes regression. Kendrick’s BABIP, from 2010 to 2013, has been .281, .261, .278 and .274, respectively (matched up with batting averages against of .277, .249, .249 and .246). Yet his pitching lines from those years were 4.73 ERA/4.88 FIP/4.62 xFIP in 2010 (not so good), 3.22 ERA/4.55 FIP/4.42 xFIP in 2011 (better), 3.90 ERA/4.32 FIP/4.31 xFIP in 2012 (average) and 3.29 ERA/3.84 FIP/4.30 xFIP so far in 2013 (pretty good). To top it all off, Kendrick doesn’t even come close to a 3.00 K/BB that would be considered good. No, I can’t explain it either.
Jonathan Pettibone (matched up with Jon Lester) has only had seven starts in the majors, so there’s really not a lot to say about him. His pitching line is 3.21 ERA/4.70 FIP/4.51 xFIP (minus line of 85 ERA-/122 FIP-/117 xFIP-), so his ERA is sort of empty. Pettibone’s K/BB is a below average 2.25 and his WHIP is high at 1.36. He’s surrendered 6 homers in 42 innings pitched (not so good). On the positive side, he’s stranded 85.3% of hitters that have reached base. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
EXPECTED LINEUP (based on games in Boston)
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, Domonic Brown (.279/.279/.605, .372 wOBA, 139 wRC, 3 homers) and Erik Kratz (.286/.360/.571, .349 wOBA, 123 wRC) hit well, while John Mayberry (.412/.412/.471, .386 wOBA, 149 wRC) also hit well in limited action. However, Delmon Young (.184/.244/.368, .269 wOBA, 67 wRC, but 2 homers), Freddy Galvis (.226/.250/.323, .252 wOBA, 55 wRC) and the ever-classy Michael Young (.128/.261/.205, .225 wOBA, 36 wRC) need to step it up.
In the Phillies bullpen in the last fortnight, closer Jonathan Papelbon (0.00 ERA/2.06 FIP/3.49 xFIP, .286 BABIP) and Michael Stutes (0.00 ERA/1.06 FIP/2.49 xFIP, .000 BABIP) have excelled, and Justin De Fratus (2.45 ERA/2.24 FIP/3.80 xFIP, .273 BABIP) has also pitched well. But Chad Durbin (13.50 ERA/7.56 FIP/4.94 xFIP, .429 BABIP) could use some luck.
AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE
RHP Roy Halladay (recovery from May 2013 shoulder surgery, placed on the 15-day DL on May 6, transferred to the 60-day DL on May 24), LHP John Lannan (strained quadriceps tendon in left knee, placed on 15-day DL on April 18), C Carlos Ruiz (right hamstring strain, placed on 15-day DL on May 21, retroactive to May 20) and 2B Chase Utley (right oblique strain, placed on 15-day DL on May 24, retroactive to May 21). Additionally, 1B Ryan Howard (left knee soreness) is day-to-day but is expected to play in this series.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
In the last two weeks, the hot hitters for the Red Sox were David Ortiz (.354/.446/.625, .454 wOBA, 184 wRC, 4 homers), Dustin Pedroia (.320/.414/.500, .399 wOBA, 147 wRC) and Daniel Nava (.325/.440/.425, .386 wOBA, 138 wRC), and Jose Iglesias (.500/.545/.625, .484 wOBA, 204 wRC) also hit well upon his return to the Red Sox. On the other hand, Jacoby Ellsbury (.217/.345/.239, .274 wOBA, 63 wRC), Mike Carp (.133/.188/.400, .251 wOBA, 48 wRC), Jonny Gomes (.138/.308/.172, .244 wOBA, 42 wRC) and Pedro Ciriaco (.200/.200/.267, .202 wOBA, 14 wRC) did not.
In the bullpen, Andrew Miller (0.00 ERA/-0.31 FIP/-0.05 xFIP, .250 BABIP), Koji Uehara (0.00 ERA/1.06 FIP/3.05 xFIP, .364 BABIP), Junichi Tazawa (0.00 ERA/0.66 FIP/1.23 xFIP, .357 BABIP), Jose De La Torre (0.00 ERA/-0.94 FIP/-0.94 xFIP, .000 BABIP, deliver the award to Pawtucket) and Alfredo Aceves (0.00 ERA/1.06 FIP/2.49 xFIP, .333 BABIP) earned the Blutarsky ERA Award. Craig Breslow (1.17 ERA/3.97 FIP/5.09 xFIP, .240 BABIP) was a very lucky guy, while Clayton Mortenson (9.53 ERA/6.77 FIP/9.53 xFIP, .320 BABIP) was just plain bad.
Between injuries and underperformance, the window is shutting on the Phillies. The Phillies might become a selling team at the trade deadline unless they quickly turn things around.