Ryan Howard starts, bats fifth, as Phillies and Cubs play game two of series

 By: Nick Mandarano, contributor 

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies have run into a team on pace to shatter 100 wins in 2016 now for the second time two weeks. The Cubs currently boast a ten-game lead in the NL Central and sit at a very comfortable 40-16 record. The Phillies, on the other hand, are struggling to stay around .500 and in the divisional race. Now 6.5 games behind the division-leading Nationals, the Phillies will face the Cubs twice more before a three-game series with Washington.

The offense is averaging more than five runs per game in the last four games following a severe scoring drought. The issue is that the Cubs have been averaging an even higher runs per game clip (5.41) for the season's entire 56 games.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Chicago Cubs (40-16) Philadelphia Phillies (28-30)
RHP Kyle Hendricks RHP Jerad Eickhoff
(4-4, 2.84 ERA) (2-8, 3.93 ERA)

Kyle Hendricks — Age: 26;

  • Last Appearance: June 2, 2016, vs LAD: W, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 SO
  • Career vs. PHI: (2-0), 2 G, 15.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO, 0 HR, 2.30 ERA

Tonight will be the second time in his last three starts that Hendricks will face the Phillies. Last time, he allowed just one run on five hits in just his second career complete game. Of his 101 pitches that start, 67 were strikes and no opposing batters walked.

Hendricks had walked three or fewer in each of his first 45 career starts, the longest stretch by a Cubs starter to begin his career since at least 1914. He is currently second in the Major Leagues in WHIP (0.916), trailing only Clayton Kershaw. Over 70% of his first pitches have resulted in strikes this season. Following a first-pitch strike, Hendricks has an impressive K/BB ratio of 19.00. If the first pitch is not a strike, that clip significantly drops to a mere 1.18.

Jerad Eickhoff — Age: 29;

  • Last Appearance: June 2, 2016, vs MIL: L, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
  • Career vs. MIL: (0-2), 2 G, 12.0 IP, 17 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 3 HR, 6.75 ERA

Eickhoff averages just 2.44 runs of support per start and seven of his 11 starts this season have been with two or fewer runs of support. This possibly could be why Eickhoff is tied with Matt Harvey for most losses (8) in the MLB. His 1.764 BB/9 is among the top ten leaders. In only one of his starts this season did Eickhoff walk more than two, but the Cubs lead all Major League teams in walks (250). 

Starting Lineups:

Chicago Cubs (25-30) Philadelphia Phillies (27-28)
  Position Player Bats   Position Player Bats
1 CF Dexter Fowler S 1 CF Odubel Herrera L
2 RF Jason Heyward L 2 2B Cesar Hernandez S
3 LF Kris Bryant R 3 SS Freddy Galvis S
4 1B Anthony Rizzo L 4 3B Maikel Franco R
5 2B Ben Zobrist S 5 1B Ryan Howard L
6 3B Tommy La Stella L 6 RF Tyler Goeddel R
7 C Miguel Montero L 7 LF Cody Asche L
8 SS Addison Russell R 8 C Carlos Ruiz R
9 P Kyle Hendricks R 9 P Jerad Eickhoff R

Broadcast Information:

  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
  • TV: CSN
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP

Game Notes:

  • Freddy Galvis snapped an 0 for 22 last night with his sixth home run of the season in the 9th inning.
  • The Cubs will be without outfielder Jorge Soler tonight, who injured his hamstring in last night's victory over the Phillies.  Soler heads to the disabled list and will be replaced by prospect Albert Almora.
  • During his five straight starts, first baseman Tommy Joseph was 9 for 20.

What's Next:

  • Wednesday, June 8, 2016: vs. Chicago Cubs, 1:05 p.m.
    • Philadelphia - Citizens Bank Park
    • RHP John Lackey (6-2, 2.88) vs. RHP Vince Velasquez (5-2, 3.67)
    • TV: CSN, MLBN (out-of-market only); Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP
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