The Phillies' off-season overhaul has kept them in the NL East race, but that isn't saying too much as there is no truly dominant team in the division. Jim Thome has been hitting well power-wise, but he hasn't had the protection that he thought he would have, since Pat Burrell has been abysmal this year. Of course Burrell hits about .750 off of Mets pitching, so this four-game series might be the elixir that his bat needs. If you have him on your fantasy team, this would be a series to play him.
The Mets get one lucky break in not having to face the ace of the Phillies, Kevin Millwood. They are going to need any breaks, now that their pitching staff is depleted even more with Al Leiter being on the DL.
Here are the pitching match-ups:
People are still scratching their heads over Padilla being an All-Star last year and how he has nosedived since then. Then again, history is littered with pitchers having great first halfs of a season only to fade into oblivion after people figured them out in the second half. Jack Armstrong comes to mind. Mets fans will be happy it's a cool night with Trachsel pitching, given his plodding pitching style. This is not a terribly interesting pitching match-up.
There are two subplots here: Will Randy Wolf finally meet his mystery subway woman and will Aaron Heilman kill Armando Benitez if he blows another win for him? For those not in the know, last time the Phillies came to town, Wolf was in Grand Central on his way to Shea and was approached by an attractive woman who was asking for directions. Smitten by her but unable to get her name due to it being so fast, he put out the word. Maybe she will show up at Shea, which would be the first time something good has happened there in a while. And during the game, if Heilman goes into the ninth with a lead, he will probably wrestle Art Howe to the ground if Howe tries to take him out of the game.
Howe has to be running out of patience with Seo. He's had three straight bad outings, and he's either in danger of losing his rotation spot or being put on the disabled list with his bad fingernail. If the Phillies roast Seo, look for him to be yanked early. Duckworth hasn't pitched that well his last two starts, only pitching 9 innings. His manager Larry Bowa gave him a tepid endorsement, saying he wouldn't be skipped over in the rotation... until the All-Star Break. Duckworth has to go to bed smiling every night after hearing that one. This could be another tepid game.
Besides Millwood, Myers has been the Phillies most constent pitcher. He has both power and command. He's also been hot, winning his last four starts. Roach, on the other hand, has been (pardon the pun) squashed like a bug during his stay in the majors. The Phillies are not going to make reversing this trend easy.