Thanks to mother nature, the Phillies will play two games tonight (sort of). If your interested in how this impromptu double-header will play out my man Justin Klugh has all your answers. We know for certain that once the first game plays itself out the Phillies and Reds will hookup for the regularly scheduled game. The series hasn’t featured a whole lot of offense yet, and the Phillies will be desperate for a win if they can’t steal the rain-shortened makeup.
John Lannan (0-0, 2.77 ERA)
It’s hard not to like what John Lannan has given the Phillies so far pitching at the back of the rotation. Often times the fifth guy is just a throw-in to eat as many innings as possible. When things go right you have a Joe Blanton, but when things go wrong…think Adam Eaton. Lannan is way ahead of any projections the Phillies might have had, as he’s got a sub 3.00 ERA, and has been throwing a high rate of ground balls. In many ways he’s a left handed Kyle Kendrick. On the rare occasion he can give you a start like Kendrick’s last night, but you can always count on a steady dose of ground balls and at least 6 innings pitched. Please don’t mistake this as a reason to go running out and buying your John Lannan shirts. He’s been solid, but a start against the Marlins will make anyone look good. As long as he continues to pitch his game and doesn’t try to imitate Cole Hamels he’ll be fine.
Mike Leake (0-0, 6.75 ERA)
The struggles of Mike Leake are a microcosm of the Reds season so far. Lot’s of promise, great expectations, but struggling to find consistent success. No doubt the Reds will find themselves and get on a winning streak at some point, but Mike Leake will have to be a part of that turnaround. Without looking at Leake’s bio, you’d never know that he was the 8th overall pick in 2009. He made his big league debut a year later at age 22, which may have been a bit too soon. He’s struggled to find consistent success at the major league level, but the Reds have given him a long leash. He’s got the stuff to make things work, but his command is another thing. The long ball has plagued him throughout his career, and appears to be rearing it’s ugly head again. With the Reds expected to contend for the division Leake won’t have the same amount of time to turn things around. He hasn’t fared well against the Phillies, but the way this lineup has struggled of late the Phils might be just what the doctor ordered.
One man who should be happy to see Leake on the mound is the slumping Ryan Howard. The big first baseman has feasted off of Leake, taking him deep twice while going 6-12. Howard isn’t the only Phil who will enjoy seeing Leake. The team is hitting a combined .338 (22-65) with 5 homers. If they can’t break out of their collective slump against Leake, we may just have to settle for 3 runs or less every night.
The Reds haven’t seen much of Lannan, but a couple guys have had success against the lefty. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are hitting a combined .467 (7-15) with a few RBI’s. These two are the most dangerous hitters in the Reds lineup so it’s no surprise that Lannan has struggled to get them out. If Lannan can keep Votto and Phillips in check, expect another solid outing out of him. My money is on Lannan tossing another quality start, with Leake serving up a few long balls that get Howard and rest of the Phillies lineup out of their slump.