Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. -- RHP Joe Blanton (0-0, 14.54) vs. RHP Livan Hernandez (0-1, 4.76).
TV: MASN2 Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. -- RHP Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.69) vs. LHP John Lannan (1-0, 3.60).
TV: MASN2 Radio: WHFS-1580 AM
Thursday, 7:05 p.m. -- LHP Cliff Lee (1-1, 7.84) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 3.18).
TV: MASN2 Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM
To the surprise of no one, Philadelphia is off to a strong start, winners in seven of its first nine games this season. The bigger surprise is how this team has won so far: with offense, not pitching. The Phillies' supposedly unstoppable rotation has combined to post a 4.74 ERA so far, with only Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt owning ERAs under 5.59. Not that anyone's seriously worried about this rotation over the long haul. Offensively, they haven't seemed to miss Jayson Werth (or injured second baseman Chase Utley) one bit. They lead the NL in batting average (.334), OBP (.380), slugging (.484) and OPS (.865) and every regular but Raul Ibanez is hitting over .300. And any fears of surviving with Brad Lidge on the DL have been assuaged thanks to
the work of fill-in closer Jose Contreras (two saves, 0.00 ERA in three appearances) and setup men Ryan Madson, Danys Baez and Antonio Bastardo (all sporting 0.00 ERAs).
WASHINGTON BATTERS VS. PHILADELPHIA PITCHERS
Nats' best vs. Blanton -- Ian Desmond (6-for-14, 2 2B, HR, 6 RBI, K), Michael Morse (3-for-9, HR, 3 RBI, 3 K), Ivan Rodriguez (6-for-17, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K).
Nats' worst vs. Blanton -- Alex Cora (0-for-6), Rick Ankiel (0-for-5, BB, 2 K), Matt Stairs (3-for-18, RBI, 3 K).
Nats' best vs. Halladay -- Ivan Rodriguez (14-for-35, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 K), Matt Stairs (10-for-26, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K).
Nats' worst vs. Halladay -- Michael Morse (0-for-6, K), Jerry Hairston (2-for-22, 2 BB, 4 K), Alex Cora (3-for-25, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K), Adam LaRoche (1-for-7, 2 K).
Nats' best vs. Lee -- Ivan Rodriguez (12-for-32, 7 2B, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 9 K), Jayson Werth (1-for-3, K), Michael Morse (2-for-7, 2 K).
Nats' worst vs. Lee -- Rick Ankiel (0-for-4, 3 K), Matt Stairs (1-for-10, RBI, BB, K), Jerry Hairston (2-for-12, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K), Adam LaRoche (1-for-5, 2B, K).
PHILADELPHIA BATTERS VS. WASHINGTON PITCHERS
Phillies' best vs. Hernandez -- Placido Polanco (18-for-49, 2B, 3B, RBI, 3 BB, 4 K), Ben Francisco (3-for-9, HR, 2 RBI), Brian Schneider (3-for-7), Joe Blanton (3-for-4, K).
Phillies' worst vs. Hernandez -- Jimmy Rollins (13-for-61, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K), Ryan Howard (4-for-24, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K), Pete Orr (1-for-5, RBI).
Phillies' best vs. Lannan -- Raul Ibanez (10-for-15, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K), Brian Schneider (3-for-6, 2B, RBI, K), Placido Polanco (3-for-7, RBI, BB).
Phillies' worst vs. Lannan -- Wilson Valdez (1-for-13, K), Ryan Howard (5-for-27, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 11 K), Jimmy Rollins (7-for-29, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K).
Phillies' best vs. Zimmermann -- Wilson Valdez (2-for-2, 2 2B, RBI), Ryan Howard (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K), Raul Ibanez (2-for-4, HR, RBI, BB).
Phillies' worst vs. Zimmermann -- Ross Gload (0-for-3, K), Placido Polanco (0-for-2), Carlos Ruiz (1-for-4).
Q&A WITH BEERLEAGUER'S JASON WEITZEL
As a special bonus heading into this series, we've got a little Q&A with Phillies blogger Jason Weitzel, who runs the Beerleaguer site owned by CSNphilly.com. Jason was kind enough to ask me some questions about the Nats and post those on his site, so let's return the favor and ask for his thoughts about the Phillies...
NatsInsider: Where do the Phillies miss Jayson Werth the most: at the plate, in the field or in the clubhouse?
Beerleaguer: After nine games, the defensive drop-off in right field between Werth and his replacement, Ben Francisco, couldn't be greater. Baseball has a funny way of finding the weakest defensive link and exposing it, and that's what's happened with Francisco, right out of the chute on Opening Day. The worst offense is that he nearly decapitated a Gold Glove center fielder in Shane Victorino on a right-center gapper that he should have conceded. The Phillies are going to stick with him, however, because his bat has been electric from the right side. Francisco has many more flaws in his offensive game than Werth, but Werth had holes, too, and was strictly platooned before his breakout season that started midway through 2008. The Phils will also miss Werth's speed on the bases; from my perspective, Werth is a speedy and strident runner, but not an especially savvy base-runner. He'll fall asleep in right occasionally, too, but he can also make his share of Gold Glove-caliber plays. His glove was excellent in the post-season, and he was the Phils' most consistent hitter of the last two Octobers.
NatsInsider: As much as the Phillies' roster looks stacked, what's the one thing that worries fans the most?
Beerleaguer: Even though they've been scoring runs in bunches, the concern is that an offense without Werth, and without Chase Utley to start, is going to leave them high and dry at some point. The Phils are getting older. They suffered through a historic scoring drought beginning in late May of 2010. The dearth of scoring was compounded by injuries to Jimmy Rollins, Utley and Ryan Howard. The bats only came around during the stretch drive, only to shut down in the postseason. That's the big fear -- going through the same fits and starts -- even after they've averaged over 6.5 runs a game and have outscored their opponents 59 to 33 nine games in.
NatsInsider: Phillies fans don't exactly have a sterling reputation around the rest of baseball. How much of that reputation is legitimate, and how much is unwarranted?
Beerleaguer: My sense is that Phillies fans have actually mellowed since the Phils got the monkey off this city's back by winning it all in 2008. Games at Citizens Bank Park now have a "beachy" Wrigley Field vibe, plus tickets are at a premium, so each game is treated as a precious event. What hurts our reputation is the volume of fans invading road parks, like Washington. The type of young fan with the free time and disposable income to do that is often the kind of fan that will run on the field and get Tasered. A series of national fan scandals, like that one and the fan who intentionally vomited on a little girl, don't help our reputation, either.