The Phillies are in the middle of a horrid 4-17 stretch since the All Star break which began with wonder about what happens comes the trade deadline and currently stands with loud screams of "When is this going to stop?". Tonight they start a three game series against a hot Atlanta Braves team that has done the exact opposite going 17-5 since the break. Currently the Phillies stand 19 1/2 games back of the Braves who lead the NL East and it almost seems a lock it'll be a 20+ game deficit when it's time to return home on Thursday's off day. However, they play the games for a reason even if it's not clear what that reason is anymore.
Cole Hamels takes the ball tonight coming off of three really strong starts that found him winless with no run support. On the positive note, whatever funk Hamels was in he has snapped out of with his performances. He's pitching deep into games and limiting any trouble he might get into along the way. As I mentioned a while back, the time to worry about win/loss with Hamels is long gone. What was needed out of Hamels are strong starts and he's certainly come through as of late.
Facing him is Julio Teheran who found himself in a bit of a scuffle with Bryce Harper last week when he put him on base the hard way after Harper admired a home run he hit off of him earlier in the game. Aside from that, Teheran has finally realized some of the hype that was stirring when he was coming up through the system. He struggled to stay in the majors for a few seasons but he's put a nice one together with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP but his 3.70 FIP suggests some luck. Still he's done quite well in a strong rotation that has covered the slack since Tim Hudson's gruesome injury.
Line up wise, I have never been so happy to see John Mayberry Jr. starting in centerfield. While he was far from the problem over the weekend, Michael Martinez has no business getting everyday starting duties in centerfield. The only glance we've seen of Casper Wells since he's joined the team were three ridiculous hacks he took off Rafael Soriano to end Saturday's game. It just seems like these games are getting mailed in by management as well as the players these days. It's going to be a painful end of the season.
J. Upton 7
C. Johnson 5
B. Upton 8