Ryan Howard To Make Season Debut As Phillies Open Series With Braves

(Photo: Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso)

Yesterday was just pathetic. Seriously, you have to give an effort to lose like that. The Phils had the series in the bag until the 9th inning of yesterday's game that ended with a Mets walk-off win. The Phillies are looking to turn a new direction this weekend as they head into the All-Star break. They will host a three-game weekend series with the Atlanta Braves, their first meeting with the team all year. Sitting ten games under .500 as well as dead last, it's a huge question on whether or not this team can turn it around. Hopefully they can head into the All-Star break with high hopes and come back swinging and pitching like aces.The Phillies won't wait for the second half of the season to start and will get a slugger back tonight as Ryan Howard will make his season debut.

Made official this afternoon, the Phillies first baseman will be in tonight's lineup for the first time since October. The slugger has missed the entire first half of the season, besides these three games, due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Howard was scheduled to be back by May, but a setback with stutures in his ankle caused him to be pushed back to July. In seven games between Class-A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh, Howard batted .500 (10-for-20) with one home run and 10 RBI. 

On the hill tonight for the Phillies will be Kyle Kendrick (2-8, 5.35 ERA) who has fallen into a terrible slump. Over his last five starts, Kendrick has a 7.67 ERA (22 ER in 28 innings), going 0-4 in that stretch as well. Kendrick was slammed hard  early in his last start, on Thursday against the Pirates. Tagged for five runs within the first six batters he faced, the Pirates held a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Kendrick lasted for seven innings, allowing five earned on six hits while walking three and striking out six. Kendrick will look to turn around his slump as he takes on the Braves, a team he has success against. In his career (67  2/3 innings), Kendrick is 6-1 with a 2.53 ERA.

Opposing the Phils will be righthander Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.87 ERA). Hudson is coming off of a poor start against the Nationals on Sunday where he gave up five earned runs on eight hits over six innings in a losing effort. Hudson has been quite helpful to the Braves this season, posting winning numbers, but has had numerous starts where he has been shelled. In his career against the Phillies (145 2/3 innnings), the 37 year-old is 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA against the Phillies.

Tonight's lineup vs Atlanta:

  1. J-Roll SS
  2. Vic CF
  3. Chutts 2B
  4. Rhyno 1B
  5. Chooch C
  6. Pence RF
  7. Pierre LF
  8. Fontenot 3B
  9. Kendrick P.

TV: CSN ; Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP.

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.