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Series Preview: Brewers (25-12) at Phillies (17-20)

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I sure would've like to get one more game at Shea, but let's keep focusing on the big picture: we've still got the best record in the NL, we've still got a seven-game lead in the division, and we're still the only club in the central with a winning record.    And--oh yeah--we've got a 72% chance of going to the playoffs.  (You think that's crazy for mid-May?  The Red Sox are at 95%!)

The Phillies aren't yet the class of the East, but they aren't a bad team, either.  They've got a positive run differential and a surplus of quality pitching that ought to give the team plenty of chances to win, so long as they stay healthy, anyway.  Here are your pitching matchups for the week:

The rotations don't quite line up, but they're pretty close: tonight's and tomorrow's game look to be completely up in the air, while Wednesday and Thursday offer an edge to the team with the flamethrower--if that flamethrower shows up and...you know, gets lots of strikeouts.  (I'm looking at you, Ben.)

As you probably know, Ryan Howard is on the DL, so the Phillies lineup is not as fearsome as usual.  Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are both in the lineup, though, representing the best hitting middle infield this side of Milwaukee.  Like the Mets, the Phils are getting on base like crazy, with a team OBP of over .350, but only Utley, Rollins, and Aaron Rowand (!?) are slugging above .500.  That's true of the Brewers, too, but the three sluggers--Fielder, Hardy, and Jenkins, are all slugging above .580.  

Here are some third-party insights into our temporary nemesis:

  • Balls, Sticks, and Stuff loves Cole Hamels.  I would too, if he weren't pitching against us.  In fact, I misread the date on this post at first, and thought we were going to miss him.  I got all excited, then discovered my mistake.  We're actually missing out on Jon Lieber.  Bah.

  • Beerleaguer revisits the issue of lineup protection, which seems to have occupied the minds of Phillies fans ever since the day Howard hit his first long ball.

  • Phillies Flow notes that some Phils hit better at home.  Perhaps we can reverse that trend.
In addition to all that, I'm hoping to get a Q&A done with Tom Goyne, the author of Balls, Sticks, and Stuff.  (All those Mets bloggers interviewing me made me want some more content for this site.)  Don't worry, I asked him about Wes Helms.  Sort of.

As I said before this road trip, we needn't set our hopes too high: a .500 stretch through the rest of May is a-ok with me.  That said, three out of four seems doable, and I'll be personally cheering our boys on starting tomorrow night.  Hooray for cheap buses and friends in Philadelphia!