The Phillies offense has generally been pretty strong, but they miss the power of Jim Thome, who is enduring the longest homerless streak of his career to start a season. Plus, the Phils bullpen has been absolutely atrocious, and that may be an understatement. Take these ingredients and throw in the Colorado Rockies who have jacked just ten home runs - compared to the Phillies eleven - and you have the recipe for some fireworks in this series.
The Phillies starting pitchers have been on fire as of late, although Vicente Padilla didn't continue that trend Tuesday night. Brett Myers turned in his third quality start of the season, lowering his ERA to 0.47 against Atlanta on Sunday night. Myers can attribute that fantastic number to his curveball that has suddenly gained all kinds of movement this season. Likewise, the rest of the Phillies starting pitchers have been strong to say the least. When the Rockies make their first trip to Philadelphia, The Phils will look for another solid pair of games from their staff.
In the first matchup, innings eater Corey Lidle will be on the mound. Scheduled to pitch on Tuesday night, his start was bumped to Wednesday due to Padilla's return to the rotation against the Mets. Lidle is in search of victory number one on the young 2005 season, despite his solid 2.71 ERA. Opposing Lidle for the Rockies will be rightie Jamie Wright. This couldn't be better news for the Phillies. Wright's ERA is an astronomical 7.94 and he has surrendered ten runs in two starts. A trip to Citizens Bank Park may as well be a death sentence for Wright's confidence, especially against this Phillies lineup.
On Thursday afternoon, Jon Lieber will look to stay unbeaten and continue his quality start to this season. Lieber, being a ground ball pitcher has seen early success in his first season in Philadelphia, despite the bandbox reputation of his new home field. On the hill for the Rockies in the rubber match will be Joe Kennedy. Like Wright, Kennedy's ERA can't get much worse, standing at an even 9.00 so far this season. He'll have to go right after Phillies hitters and pitch a mistake free game in order to escape Philadelphia with a victory.
While Pat Burrell has been white hot to start the season, Jim Thome, Mike Lieberthal and David Bell have struggled. Doing the math, that is one third of the Phillies lineup which has been off to a cold start to the season. Thome is mired in the worst homerless streak to start a season that he has ever experienced, David Bell is batting right around the .200 mark and had just one RBI coming into Tuesday night's game with the Mets. If there was any time for the Phillies offense to put all of the pieces together this would be it. Against the very suspect Rockies pitching staff it is very conceivable that the bullpen may be granted two days off in this series, which would be the best possible news for the Phillies.
Prediction: Against two of the worst statistical pitchers in the National League, the Phillies bats will come alive. Pat Burrell will continue his offensive tear, Jimmy Rollins' speed on the basepaths will be showcased and hopefully, Lieberthal and Bell will pull out of their slumps as Bell has started to do over the last three games. The Phillies will likely win both of these games.