Posted by Kevin Durso
The National League West was known for the past few seasons for all of its teams being competitive. Since 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have all won the NL West every season. The Colorado Rockies have won the Wild Card once. The Padres have been involved in close races. The Arizona Diamondbacks rode an NL West title to the NLCS in 2007, and since then have struggled to find their way back to the Postseason. This season, they seem to have everything working.
The Diamondbacks come into the series with a 1.5 game lead on the Giants in the NL West. They are most definitely a contender at this point, and also look more and more like a team capable of making the magical run straight to the World Series. They are 9-4 in August, and have won their last six games entering this series, and seven of their last ten.
Leading the way on offense is Justin Upton. Upton has been on fire lately, hitting .306 with 25 home runs and 75 RBIs. In the past week, Upton has hit .407 with two home runs and six RBIs.
Also key parts to the lineup are Chris Young, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts, and Miguel Montero. Young is only hitting .239 on the season, but has 17 home runs and 57 RBIs. Johnson’s average is even worse, at .210, but he has 18 home runs and 49 RBIs. Roberts is hitting a respectable .264 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. Finally, Montero is hitting .266 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs.
Lighting up the board of late are Paul Goldschmidt and Cody Ransom. Goldschmidt has only been with the team for 12 games, but has hit .268 with two home runs and seven RBIs in that time. Ransom has only played nine games with the D’Backs, going just 5-for-25 since then. But, three of those five hits are for extra bases, including a homer, and he has driven in four runs.
Here are the pitching matchups for this series.
In the opener, Roy Halladay (15-4, 2.51 ERA) takes on Josh Collmenter (7-7, 3.51 ERA). Halladay went 6 1/3 innings in his last start against the Dodgers, allowing just one run in the Phillies’ 5-3 win. In his career against the Diamondbacks, Halladay is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 3 starts. Collmenter allowed two runs in seven innings his last time out, picking up the win against the Astros. He faced the Phillies in a relief appearance on April 27th, throwing a shutout innings in the Phillies’ 8-4 win. He has never started a game against the Phillies.
In the middle game, Cliff Lee (12-7, 2.83 ERA) goes against Joe Saunders (8-9, 3.76 ERA). Lee shut out the Dodgers in his eight innings of work his last time out. He also added his second home run of the season in that game. He faced the Diamondbacks once this season, back on April 25th. He allowed four runs over seven innings in the Phillies’ 4-0 loss. In three career starts against the D’Backs, Lee is 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA. Saunders took a no-decision in his last start, allowing five runs in six innings to the Astros. He faced the Phillies on April 27th, and allowed six runs over 5 2/3 innings of the Phillies’ 8-4 win. In three career starts against the Phillies, Saunders is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA.
In the finale, Vance Worley (8-1, 2.85 ERA) gets the start against Ian Kennedy (15-3, 3.12 ERA). Worley took a no-decision in his last start after allowing six runs in four innings. Worley has never faced the Diamondbacks in his career. Kennedy allowed one run over seven innings in his last start, picking up the win over the Mets. He has won each of his last seven starts. He faced the Phillies on April 25th, and pitched a three-hit shutout in the D’Backs 4-0 win. In two career starts against the Phillies, he is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA.
Prediction: August 16 – Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1 August 17 – Phillies 7, Diamondbacks 0 August 18 – Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 4
The Phillies lost a series against the Diamondbacks in April. Two things were different then. The offense was struggling to score and the Phillies were playing in Arizona, which is more of a pitcher’s park at times. Now, the D’Backs come here. With Halladay and Lee pitching the first two games, the Phillies should have the upper hand. Halladay and Lee have both had success against the D’Backs before, and that should continue in this one.
With a rookie pitcher like Collmenter throwing in the opener, and Saunders, who had a rough start against the Phillies already this season, the Phillies dealing their two best are in a great spot.
The finale could go either way. Kennedy is on a roll, and looks like nothing will stop him, especially if he repeats his first performance this season against the Phillies. Worley hasn’t faced the D’Backs before. With Worley also coming off his worst start in recent memory, he’ll be looking to prove something. Top pitchers have never stopped him before, so it could be a classic pitcher’s showdown. Still, I think this is the one game where the D’Backs have the edge over the Phils.
The Phillies might be dealing with a hot team, but don’t forget that they are off to a 10-2 start in August. If there’s a team out there that can match this hot D’Backs club, it’s the Phillies.
The Phillies hit the road after this series with the D’Backs for three games in Washington with the Nationals.