Phillies series preview

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

July has been rough so far, but the Phillies should provide some relief.

The Brewers are 1-4 in July. It's only 5 games so it doesn't really matter, but it's been a rough week for us fans. Lucky for us and the Crew, the Phillies are coming to town for what could be a very fun 4 game series.

The Phillies offense has been pretty terrible. Coming into games on Sunday they were tied for 5th worst in MLB with 3.77 runs scored per game. Here is how bad it's been: Marlon Byrd leads the team in offense with 266/317/497, 124 wRC+. Chase Utley (286/344/432, 113 wRC+) and Carlos Ruiz (257/363/357, 106 wRC+) are also reasonable offensive threats. After them it's pretty ugly.

Despite his age, Jimmy Rollins is still a solid defender. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz are also good defenders. Outside of those three though, the defense isn't terribly effective. Overall the Phillies rank 26th in Fangraphs defensive metric.

The Philies bullpen ranks 21st in MLB by RA9-WAR (that's WAR derived from runs allowed per 9 innings. I like it better than regular fWAR which is derived using FIP. I won't get into it too much here, but this is the first time I'm using RA9-WAR so I thought I'd just mention it briefly). That ranking feels misleading because their top three are pretty good.

Jonathan Papelbon is rolling with a 22.9 K%, 6.9 BB%, .185 BAA, 0.93 WHIP, and a 1.35 ERA. Jake Diekman is walking too many guys (9.4%), but he's striking out 31.2% of total batters faced. That's darned good and it's better than his 4.39 ERA suggests. Antonio Bastardo shows why Diekman deserves better that his ERA indicates. Bastardo is walking 14.1% of  total batters faced. Bastardo has a 3.60 ERA though. It's because he's also striking out a lot (29.4%) and giving up few hits (1.90 BAA).

Mario Hollands is a great example of why I've begun to stay away from fWAR for relievers. Hollands has a 0.0 fWAR and a 3.88 FIP, but his ERA is 2.70. He's not walking tons though 8.1 BB% isn't exactly good. The "problem" is that he's not striking guys out a lot (18.7%). He's not an elite reliever, but Bastardo and Diekman each are worth 0.5 fWAR and I'm not sure they're truly that much better.

(sidenote: FIP is meant to tell us how well pitcher's control things that are within their control and ignores things that are out of their control [ie: fielding]. For what it is, it's fine. I just think it shouldn't be used for relievers nor for pitch-to-contact types).

The only truly bad reliever in their pen right now is B.J. Rosenberg. His 6.74 ERA is well deserved as he's done nothing well.

Monday July 7th, 7:10 pm CT: Marco Estrada vs Cole Hamels

Hamels is good. Fortunately for the Brewers he's the only good starting pitcher the Phillies are throwing out there. He's got a 24.4 K%, 8.6 BB%, .232 BAA, 1.22 WHIP, and a 2.98 ERA/3.23 FIP. That's all well in line with his career stat line. The guy is good and the Brewers are going to have to be on their game if they want to win this one.

Of note for the Brewers: Marco Estrada is coming off of two pretty solid starts. He only allowed 2 runs apiece to the Nationals and Blue Jays. Phillies are nowhere near as good offensively. This could be a very nice game for Estrada.

Tuesday July 8th, 7:10 pm CT: Wily Peralta vs Kyle Kendrick

Kendrick is mediocre. His 4.12 ERA mirrors his FIP. He earned it by striking out only 14.6% of batters faced and only walked 6.7%. His 2.60 BAA isn't very good and neither is his 1.33 WHIP. He does a reasonable job keeping the ball on the ground (46.0 GB%) and an okay job keeping it in the park (0.91 HR/9). Kendrick and Hamels throw the same 4 pitches so I wonder if he'll suffer or has been suffering from teams getting used to the mix? I don't know, it's just a though.

Of note for the Brewers: Peralta is in the midst of his roughest stretch of the year. He's allowed 4 runs in the last 3 games and 3 runs in the two before those. I have confidence he'll turn it around and there's a good chance it starts with this game.

Wednesday July 9th, 7:10 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Roberto Hernandez

Carmona, I mean Hernandez has been the Phillies worst starter. He's not striking guys out (16 K%), he's walking a bunch (11.7 BB%) and he's BAA is a meciocre 2.51. His 1.52 WHIP is really bad. He does have a very solid 51.4 GB%. I'm terribly worried about this guy facing the Brewers, though Jean Segura is going to have a bad night against almost any GB-type pitcher.

Thursday July 10th, 1:10 pm CT: Matt Garza vs David Buchanan

David Buchanan is in the middle of his first season in the MLB. It's not going very well (4.82 ERA/4.89 FIP). His 15.0 K% isn't good but his 2.75 BB% is. His .264 BAA and 1.33 WHIP are below average. He's getting beat up by home runs a bit, but his minor league numbers suggest that won't last. I think there's a good chance the Brewers tee off on this kid.

Of note for the Brewers: Matt Garza is coming off his best start of the season. As I'm sure you all remember he threw a complete game shutout against the Reds. It's unlikely he can top that effort, but I'm hopeful he'll have another good start against this anemic offense.

Conclusion

The Brewers really needed to face a team like the Phillies right now. Or maybe I just need them to. They still have the second best record in baseball, but they've been on a bit of slide to start out July. I'm not panicking or anything, I just want to see another good stretch of games. Enter Philadelphia. The Phillies are awful in every aspect except their pen. I'm pretty confident the Brewers rotation can deftly handle their hitters.  I think there's a very real chance the Brewers take 3 out of 4 and if Estrada has a good game I'm not ruling out a sweep. It's rare I bring up the sweep because, well, they're rare. The Phillies are just that bad.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs

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