Back Home, Phillies Look to Stay Strong Against Nats

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso

What's better than the Phillies' franchise-best 9-1 road trip? A day off and a homecoming tour. Yes, the Phillies, who just finished an incredibly successful road trip, are returning home for six straight games before taking their amazing act back on the road. It all starts with three games against the Washington Nationals.

If you're a Phillies' fan, the first person to come to mind when you mention the Nationals is Jayson Werth. Werth, a key player on the Phillies' 2007-2010 division runs, is not quite living up to that success in Washington, hitting .227 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. Also a strong part of the Nationals' lineup is Ryan Zimmerman, who has a .296 average with 6 homers and 27 RBIs. Injuries have held Zimmerman back this season, so he has only played 59 games so far. Michael Morse may be turning in the best season of any National so far, hitting .319 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs. But, Morse left yesterday's game against the Cubs, making his status for the series unknown. Another rising star is Danny Espinosa, who has hit just .227, but belted 17 home runs and driven in 55 runs. Out with injuries are Adam LaRoche and Ivan Rodriguez, who were both part of the Nats' Opening Day roster.

Here are the pitching matchups for this series.

In the opener, Cole Hamels (13-6, 2.53 ERA) takes on Livan Hernandez (6-11, 4.41 ERA). Hamels allowed a ninth inning home run with two outs, as the only blemish of his complete game win over the Giants. Hamels' only start against the Nationals this season was on May 3rd. He pitched a complete game, allowing one run in the Phillies' 4-1 win. In 19 career starts against the Nats, Hamels is 10-3 with a 2.61 ERA. Hernandez lost his last start to the Rockies, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. He has faced the Phillies three times this season. He won a start on April 12th, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings, but lost his next two starts. On May 3rd, he allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings, taking the loss. On May 30th, he allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings as well. He took a no-decision in that game. In his career against the Phillies, he is 12-11 with a 3.65 ERA in 30 career starts.

In the middle game, Roy Oswalt (4-7, 3.84 ERA) goes against John Lannan (8-7, 3.56 ERA). Oswalt allowed three runs in six innings against the Giants. His last win came on June 12th. Oswalt lost his only start against the Nationals this season, allowing two runs in five innings of a 2-1 Phillies' loss. In 18 career games and 16 starts, Oswalt is 5-4 with a 3.12 ERA. Lannan took a no-decision in his last start, allowing one run over six innings to the Rockies. He has faced the Phillies three times this season. On April 13th, he allowed three runs in six innings in a Phillies' 3-2 win. On May 5th, he allowed six runs in two innings of a 7-3 Phillies' win. On June 1st, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings of a 2-1 Phillies' loss. In his career against the Phillies, a total of 14 starts, Lannan is 1-10 with a 5.96 ERA.

In the finale, Roy Halladay (15-4, 2.51 ERA) gets the start against Chien-Ming Wang (1-2, 3.60 ERA). Halladay allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings to the Dodgers. It was his fourth straight win. Halladay has made three starts against the Nationals this season. He allowed two runs in the ninth inning of a complete game win on April 13th. He allowed two runs over seven innings on May 5th, a 7-3 Phillies' win. He allowed four runs over seven innings in the Phillies' 5-4 win on May 30th. In 15 career games and 14 starts, Halladay is 11-1 with a 2.21 ERA. Wang picked up his first win in nearly two years, pitching six shutout innings against the Cubs. It is just his fourth start of the season. Wang has faced the Phillies once in his career. In a relief appearance, Wang took a no-decision, allowing two runs over three innings.

August 12 – Phillies 6, Nationals 4
August 13 – Phillies 8, Nationals 3
August 14 – Phillies 7, Nationals 0

This series shapes up as one that will just keep the Phillies rolling. The Nationals have lost four of six games on their current road trip, which concludes with this three-game set against the Phils.

The opener benefits the Phillies with Cole Hamels on the mound. The Nationals will test the Phillies in this one, and neither pitcher will throw an amazing game, but the Phillies should end up on the good end of this one.

The other two games of this series have the potential to be laughers. Either way, the Phillies look to be the team riding the hot hand. That's the reason I feel good going with a sweep here. Normally, the Phillies have to be miles above the opponent to get such a prediction. But, even with the Nationals being competitive and familiar with the Phillies, the Phillies are on such a roll that you really can't bet against them. Not until they fall again anyways. So, for right now, just expect the wins to keep on coming.

The Phillies get another off day on Monday before facing the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games.