Saturday, May 16, 2009

Scouting Report: Phillies at Nationals (5/16)

The Nationals face a Scott Olsen-Daniel Cabrera double-header tomorrow after using every relief pitcher in their pen en route to a 10-6 loss in 12 innings. Once again there's rain in the forecast, so maybe Mother Nature will intervene. If not, you might want to grab any Phillies hitter you can get in your fantasy baseball league.

Here's my look at the Phils' starters and predictions. You can check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on their hitters and bullpen.

On the Mound
Brett Myers:
For the second time in three weeks we get one of my favorite pitching match-ups: Brett Myers vs. Scott Olsen, what I like to call a knuckle-header.

Wife-beater Myers is a groundball pitcher who throws a straight four-seam fastball, sinking two-seamer, curve, slider, and occasional change. The curve is his best pitch.

Myers has struggled with velocity and the long-ball in the early going, a re-run of what the Phillies saw in the first half last season before he was sent down to the minors to get things straightened out. He was very good down the stretch last year, but this year it's been back to bad Brett.

In his last start, his fastball velocity was back in the low-90s, which is where he needs to be to be successful. Who knows why Myers's fastball seems to come and go, but if it's back, he can once again be a solid #2 starter, which the Phillies desperately need.

Andrew Carpenter: A 24-year-old righty with all of one Major League inning under his belt (he loaded the bases on a hit and two walks, one intentional, but escaped without a run), Carpenter doesn't appear to have much of a future in the big leagues. Rated as the Phillies' #22 prospect by Baseball America, he's had problems with poor conditioning and a hittable high-80s fastball. His best pitches are a slider and a change-up, and he'll occasionally throw a splitter.

His stuff isn't very good, but his command isn't that good either. He's striking out 6.03 and walking 3.93 per 9 for the Iron Pigs so far this year en route to a 4.72 ERA, which is a tick lucky according to his 5.93 FIP.
Chances are we'll see plenty of Jack Taschner after Carpenter hits the showers.

Fat, right-handed, soft-tossing junkballers don't usually thrive at this level.

Fearless Predictions
Season record: 22-11
If Olsen's really hitting his spots, he can be effective for short stretches. We know he lacks the talent to maintain that pin-point command consistently, but you see it in stretches. Manny desperately needs one of those spells of Moyer-ness from his nicotine-addled soft-tosser. However, if Olsen's off, Manny will have little choice but to let Olsen twist in the wind as long as it takes to get at least 6 innings. I tend to think Myers will be ok this year, and I expect him to pitch well tomorrow. Game one could be ugly. I'll predict an 8-3 Phillies win.

The Scats should be able to earn the split however by beating up on Carpenter and a Phillies bullpen that's been much more hittable this year than the shut-down pen that helped them win it all last year. My guess: Scats, 7-5.

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