There are a lot of great sub-plots in this brief 2-game set between the Phillies and Indians. Charlie Manuel makes his return to Cleveland, while Terry Francona coaches against his first club the Phillies. So much time has passed since either one was at the helm with their old clubs I doubt there is any animosity. Charlie and Tito are two of the most respected managers in the game, which should play out as a great chess match between the two.
Cliff Lee will also have a homecoming of sorts, but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post. Tonight is all about Roy Halladay, and if he can keep his and the team’s hot stretch going. If that’s not reason enough to tune in the Phillies will have a DH, which is always sorta fun. Will Charlie rest Utley and play Galvis at second? Will we finally see Delmon Young? How ’bout Jim Thome comes out of nowhere to DH for both his former teams? Tune in and find out.
Roy Halladay (2-2, 5.08 ERA)
It’s official, Doc is back. Rumors of his demise were widely exaggerated as he’s been stellar following his first two starts. If there is one man to credit for Doc’s turnaround it’s Harvey Dorfman. If the name escapes you don’t feel bad, I had no idea who Dorfman was either.
One of Doc’s mentors is the aforementioned Dorfman, the renowned sports psychologist. He and Doc had a very close relationship during his life. When things seemed down and out he turned to Dorfman’s long list of advice he had given over the years, and used it to regain his swagger. Whatever the specific advice, it appears that Halladay’s struggles are behind him. Another quality start would give the Phillies a chance at four in a row, and creep back within a game of .500.
Zach McAllister (1-3, 3.52 ERA)
One thing is immediately apparent when looking at McAllister’s bio – he’s a big dude. The 25-year old stands at 6’6”, 240lbs, making Halladay looks tiny by comparison. They’re the same height, but with the added bulk I’m sure McAllister could have a fallback career as a tight end for the Browns.
He’s in just his second season for the Tribe, hoping to improve upon a rookie campaign that was mediocre at best. But, with the Indians starved for pitching he’ll get every opportunity to solidify a spot in the rotation for years to come. Like most young pitchers he’s struggled with his command. He walked five batters in his last start against the White Sox, and has a career WHIP of 1.41 that will need to come down. If the Phils can exercise some patience at the plate they may be able to knock him out early and get into the bullpen. *Don’t hold your breath*
Michael Young and Ben Revere are the only two Phils who have have faced McAllister. They’re a combined 5-9 with a couple RBI’s against the righty, so expect to see them both in the lineup (assuming Revere’s quad is heeled). The rest of the lineup will have to take notes from those two, and wait for their pitch, otherwise it could be a long night of Phillies swinging and missing and junk in the dirt.
It’s been more than a few years since Halladay pitched in the AL, so most of these young Indians have yet to face him. Nick Swisher has decent numbers off Doc, hitting .300 with one long ball in his career.
The one guy who Tito should pencil into the lineup tonight is Jason Giambi. He’s managed to stave off retirement for yet another year as a part time DH, and has absolutely owned Halladay in the past. He’ s hitting .306 (22-72) with 4 homers. Granted, he’s not the same player he once was, but that kind of success against a pitcher doesn’t fade away over time.
Look for the Phils to ride their momentum from Queens into Cleveland, and pull off their 4th-straight win. Who knows, maybe even Delmon Young will start his Phillies career off with a bang.