Philadelphia Phillies-Atlanta Braves: Phils Face Early Test for NL East Race

April 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The latest news out of Phillies camp was not promising: Starter J.A. Happ will miss tonight’s start against the Atlanta Braves due to stiffness in his elbow.

Instead, Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 17.47), pictured, will face Tommy Hanson (1-1, 2.38).

Other matchups feature Tim Hudson (1-0, 2.84) vs. Roy Halladay (3-0, 1.12) and Jamie Moyer (1-1, 7.50) against Derek Lowe (3.0, 4.67).

In the face of losing two of three games at home to the Marlins, facing the Braves’ quality starters looks like a mismatch.

I was listening to 610 WIP on the radio yesterday and Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated talk about baseball in general and the Phillies when asked.

He indicated that the Phillies offense was good enough to overcome questionable starting pitching.

The Phillies fattened up on the Nationals‘ and Houston‘s pitching. In their first eight games against those teams, the Phillies averaged eight runs per game.

In their last four, including their 7-5 loss to the Nationals and the three-game set at home against Florida, they scored an average of 3.5 runs.

While the temperatures in Philadelphia returned to their normal 50-degree or colder nights, after a cooler day with a chance of rain tonight, daytime highs in Atlanta are in the mid to upper 70s.

Hitting weather.

Thinking optimistically, the Braves could win tonight and Halladay win on Wednesday.

Even though Derek Lowe is 3-0, his 4.67 ERA tells a different story. It would be a good day for the Phillies to give Moyer a six-run output or higher.

The Phillies have a history with Lowe in the 2008 playoffs when he was with the Dodgers, and he can get knocked out early.

The high ERA with a 3-0 record tells another story: The Braves have a good offense themselves.

Rookie phenom Jason Heyward is getting all the press, but Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Erik Hinske, and Chipper Jones lead a potent Braves attack.

Preseason pundits, myself included, had the Phillies running away with the NL East.

It still may happen.

But back-to-back subpar offensive performances would set a bad tone for the defending National League champion.

Look for the Phillies to bounce back offensively.

It should make for an exciting series.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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