PHILLIES-ROYALS PITCHING MATCHUPS
FRIDAY: Jeremy Hellickson (5-6, 4.23 ERA) vs Ian Kennedy (6-6, 3.96 ERA): Kennedy is a 31-year old, 10-year veteran right-hander on his fourth big league organization. He sports a career 81-74 mark, and finished 4th in the 2011 NL Cy Young voting after winning 21 games as a member of the Arizona rotation. Aside from that one big year, Kennedy has been a .500 pitcher over his career, a solid innings eater who has five seasons of more than 180 innings pitched over the last seven years. This season, Hellickson is just that, a .500 pitcher – but a solid one as usual. He has allowed just 76 hits over 88.2 innings with an 85/29 K:BB ratio. Just six of his 15 starts have been of the Quality Start variety, however. Hellickson is an innings-eater who has given the Phillies at least six in eight of his last nine starts. However, he left his last start early when he tweaked his back. He needs to show that he is healthy, and keep producing these professional outings, making himself a valuable chip for the Phils to deal as the July non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
SATURDAY: Aaron Nola (5-7, 4.45 ERA) vs Danny Duffy (3-1, 3.24 ERA): the lone left-hander in the Royals’ rotation, Duffy began the season in the bullpen, not making his first start until May 15th. In the last six weeks since entering the rotation he has fashioned a 3-1 record with a 3.33 ERA, allowing 39 hits over 48.2 innings with a strong 58/11 K:BB ratio. He is coming off his strongest outing of the season in which he allowed six hits over eight innings against the Saint Louis Cardinals, striking out eight and walking none. A 3rd round pick by the Royals way back in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, his career was slowed over his first few seasons by injury. However, he has been very solid now for three seasons in Kansas City. For Nola, this is another chance to right the ship. He is working on a terrible streak of four consecutive starts in which he has not reached the 4th inning, and over which he has yielded 22 earned runs. These are the first real struggles for the righty who was the club’s first round draft pick just two years ago, so odds are he figures it out. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later – as in right now.
SUNDAY: Vincent Velasquez (6-2, 3.38 ERA) vs Yordano Ventura (6-5, 5.00 ERA): Ventura is a 25-year old right-hander often considered the best pure talent in the Royals’ rotation. Signed by KC as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 2008, Ventura is now in his third full big league season. His problem this year has been inconsistency. Ventura can be dominant one outing, and get roped around the next. Five of his starts this season have resulted in five or more opposition earned runs. Which Ventura shows up on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park could go a long way towards determining the outcome of this one. Velasquez will be making his second start back after coming off the disabled list, trying to continue showing that he is not only healthy, but also capable of pitching under control. His stuff is electric. Now he needs to show the discipline, command, and control that would enable him to develop into a true ace.
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