This isn't the first time Tom Goyne and I have traded q's and a's at the outset of a Brewers-Phillies series, but I'm pretty sure it's the awesomest. (The series. Not sure about the q's and a's.)
Tom is the proprietor of Philly sports blog Balls, Sticks, and Stuff--technically not just a baseball site, but I think we won't be seeing a whole lot of Eagles coverage there for at least another week or so.
I've appointed Tom my official Phillies pitching expert, so he was kind enough to give us the rundown on what to expect from the guys who will be keeping Corey Hart off the basepaths. (And yes--oh yes--putting Craig Counsell on.) For Part 1, covering the Phillies offense, just scroll on down. And look for Part 3 later on tonight.
BCB: No doubt about it, Hamels is a stud. I'm surprised he hasn't gotten more attention in the Lincecum-fest that has been Cy Young handicapping. Does he have any weaknesses Sveum might like to know about? Is the potential righty-heaviness of the Brewers lineup a cause for concern?
Tom Goyne: I'm surprised he hasn't gotten a little more attention too, particularly given the way the media likes to belittle the Phillies little ballpark. As for Hamels, if anything, left-handed batters give him more trouble that righties, probably because of his ridiculous change-up. His only weakness is that he gets a little too excited sometimes in big games an overthrows a bit. As long as he remains Cool Hand Cole, he'll be fine.
BCB: Moving on to Game 2, what's going on with Brett Myers? He had a spectacular second half, but are you putting much weight on his less-spectacular September?
TG: At this point, Myers is a complete enigma. He was routinely shelled the first half of the season, was sent down to the minors to get his head on straight (both figuratively and literally... When Myers is going bad, his head flies towards first base as he releases the ball), came back and had a lights out second half until his last few starts. He says he has it figured out, but with Brett you never can tell. I'll say this: Expect either a dominant performance or a putrid one. There is very little in between with Brett.
BCB: Finally, Game 3: Jamie Moyer. Is he doing something different this year? I see he's keeping more balls in the park--is that just a fluke, or did a really old dog learn a new trick?
TG: Anecdotally and statistically, he throws a cutter more than he used to and he's added a fastball that sinks more [which means he has about 27 different types of fastballs he throws], resulting in more groundballs. That has kept his home run rate down. In addition, for reasons I can't explain right now, Citizens Bank Park has played more neutral this year than any other year in it's history, so that's helped him a bit too.
BCB: I hate to send you so many "are you worried about..." questions, but...Brad Lidge is your closer. You are headed to the postseason. Discuss.
TG: Lidge's first few months with the Phillies were just lights out, he was untouchable. The Phillies rewarded him with a contract extension and after that, he seemed to lose a little of his edge. Don't misunderstand, he never did blow a save and rarely gave up a run, but the saves could get a little dicey at times. Saturday was a little more dicey than usual, but that is the type of thing that has happened. In the final analysis though, there are things I worry about before Lidge. The Bridge to Lidge as we say is a little more scary as those relievers were used heavily all year long.
BCB: Here's another fun one: If Hamels or Myers is blown out, or gets hurt, or whatever, and the Phillies need to come up with 6+ innings of relief to keep them in the ballgame, what should Charlie Manuel do?
TG: It depends. If J.A. Happ makes the post-season roster, I expect he will be used as the long man. He's had a pretty good run with the Phillies as a rookie and I think he'd be their best chance to keep them in a game. Otherwise, you'd hope to get two innings out of Clay Condrey or Chad Durbin, then two from Ryan Madson, maybe one from J.C. Romero, and then one out of Brad Lidge.
BCB: I'll send your question back at you: Care you make any predictions?
TG: I hate to do this, but I think the Phillies will do pretty well against the Brewers, mainly because the Brewers' rotation is in disarray. I'm already mad at myself for saying that, but time will tell...
BCB: Thanks, Tom! We're a firm believer in jinxes here at Brew Crew Ball, so we agree. You should be mad at yourself.