Phillies vs Toronto Blue Jays


The Phillies (1-2-1) take on yet another member of the AL East this afternoon at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida as the Grapefruit League season slips into its first weekend of action. This time it will be the Toronto Blue Jays providing the opposition.

There will be a couple of principal storylines for fans to watch closely in today’s game. Both Jerome Williams and David Buchanan are slated to make their 2nd appearances of the season on the mound for the Fightins as each pitcher battles for a place in the 2015 starting rotation.

More from That Balls Outta Here

At this point in the spring, the Phillies depth chart has Williams in the rotation’s #4 slot, and Buchanan as the #5 starter. But continued trade talks swirl, injuries could pop at some point, and there is, of course, the performances of the pitchers themselves to be factored in as the coaching staff makes its evaluations for the coming season.

In their first outings back on Tuesday vs the Yankees, it was supposed to be Williams starting, with Buchanan following him. There was an 11th hour switch by manager Ryne Sandberg. Buchanan took the mound at the start and didn’t fare too well. He went two innings, allowing a run on 5 hits while neither walking nor striking out anyone. Williams followed with a pair of shutout innings, allowing just one hit.

Yes, Toronto, interests me…They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.” ~ Papelbon

The second main storyline on the Phillies side today will be the spring debut for closer Jonathan Papelbon. This will mark the 3rd straight day that a Phils hurler takes the mound with major trade rumors and speculation swirling around him, after Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels did the same over the last two games.

While there were numerous scouts watching those Lee and Hamels outings, there will be fewer on hand for Papelbon. However, perhaps the most interested will be the opposing Jays staff. Just last week, speculation began regarding Toronto interest in acquiring the Phils veteran.

As related by Jim Salisbury, Papelbon was then quoted: “Yes, Toronto, interests me, if it interests Ruben. I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.

Much as with his starting pitching counterparts, however, Papelbon has not pushed the idea of a trade. All three hurlers have consistently stated that they would prefer to pitch for a contender. But all three have also consistently stated that they would prefer that contender be the Phillies, and that they are all preparing for a season overcoming the skeptics while taking the mound in pinstripes.

For the Jays, taking the mound for the start will be veteran lefty Mark Buehrle, baseball’s most consistent starting pitcher for over a decade. For 14 consecutive seasons, Buehrle has taken the mound for the White Sox (11), Marlins (1), and Blue Jays (2) and made 30 or more starts, pitching over 200 innings in every campaign. Another of their projected starting pitchers, Marco Estrada, will follow.

At some point in this game, it is anticipated that former Phillies top prospect Kyle Drabek will also see action. A key piece in the Roy Halladay deal back in December of 2009, Drabek’s career has been derailed by injuries. He has pitched just 172.1 innings over parts of 5 big league seasons, now at age 27.

As with yesterday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees, today’s game will be telecast back to the Philly market on The Comcast Network (TCN) and can also be seen on the MLB Network. The Phils also return to radio today, with the game available locally on both WPHT 1210-AM and on WIP 94-FM.