Tuesday, June 3 (7:05 PM)
PHI: David Buchanan, RHP (1-1, 3.86 ERA)
WSH: Jordan Zimmermann, RHP (3-2, 4.07 ERA)
Wednesday, June 4 (7:05 PM)
PHI: A.J. Burnett, RHP (3-4, 3.79 ERA)
WSH: Stephen Strasburg, RHP (4-4, 3.15 ERA)
Thursday, June 5 (7:05 PM)
PHI: Kyle Kendrick, RHP (1-5, 4.2 ERA)
WSH: Doug Fister, RHP (3-1, 3.34 ERA)
The Phillies (24-31, 5th, 6.5 GB)
The Phillies have just completed an 11-game home stand that can be described in one word – horrific. They were no-hit, shutout, played bad defense, were inconsistent on offense, suffered from a lack of clutch hitting, and in general, played bad fundamental baseball.
The 5-game series against the Mets was just plain ugly. Bad baseball all around. The numbers from that series speak for themselves. The Phillies were 9-42 with runners in scoring position and left 42 runners on base.
The lack of clutch hitting is particularly alarming. The poor fundamentals, perhaps, even more so. Major leaguers should know proper fundamentals by the time they reach the big leagues.
As has been the case for most of the season, the veterans are pulling their own weight. The youngsters are not. Third baseman Cody Asche was starting to heat up before he went down with an injury. Reid Brignac and Cesar Hernandez have not been the answer. Domonic Brown is hitting .206/.263/.312. He may be better off trying to figure his swing out in Lehigh Valley.
Cliff Lee‘s injury has been a huge loss. If the Phillies lose him for an extended period of time, the loss could be devastating. Except for the final game in the Mets series, the bullpen has been performing much better as of late.
The hope is that the Phillies will play more relaxed away from their home park. They are now 12-19 at home and 12-12 on the road. Maybe they were pressing a little too much in front of their home fans. Maybe they are just a bad team. One thing is for sure, wallowing in mediocrity is not fun – not for the players or their fans.
The Nationals (27-28, 3rd, 3.5 GB)
Arguably, the Washington Nationals are the most disappointing team in the National League East. With a solid team already in place, they acquired veteran right hander Doug Fister to bolster an already stout starting rotation. Injuries, however, have thrown a wrench into their plans in the early going.
Fister started the season on the disabled list. Left hander Gio Gonzalez went down with shoulder inflammation and is out indefinitely. Steven Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann have underachieved through the first quarter of the season.
Star outfielder Bryce Harper is on the 15-day disabled list after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He will be out until mid-season. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman may not be a third baseman anymore. He suffered a broken right thumb on April 12 on has been on the disabled list since. He was hitting .364/.405/.636 at the time of his injury.
Zimmerman will be activated for the first game of the series. The Nationals will try him in left field. The two-time Gold Glove winner has had trouble making the throw across the diamond in recent years.
The offense is lead by Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth. LaRoche is making a push for an All-Star berth, hitting .321/.416/.518. He has seven home runs, 27 runs batted in and an OPS of .934. Werth is batting .290 with an on-base average of .371.
The Nationals have been even colder than the Phillies, as of late. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games. They haven’t played that well at home either, sporting just a 16-15 record.
This will be a matchup of two struggling, underachieving teams. The Phillies need to start turning things around in a hurry. After beating the Nationals on May 4, the Phillies were 15-14 and sat just 1.5 games out of first place. Then came the four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Since May 4, the Phillies are 9-17, the worst record in the National League.