Series Preview: Indians at Phillies 5/14-15

 

Cleveland Indians (21-16) Chance of Postseason Play: (44.8%) at Philadelphia Phillies (18-21) Chance of Postseason Play: (15.2%)
Series 13, Games 38 and 39
Citizens Bank Park, Philly, PA: 1.324, Extreme hitters park.
WeatherExpect no delays or rainouts; ZERO percent chance of rain Tuesday and Wednesday.

Overview:
The Indians head into Philadelphia as one of the hottest teams in baseball and are hoping to stay that way by repeating their most recent performances against the Phillies.
The Indians will seek their 14th win in 18 games in the opener of a two-game series Tuesday night. The Indians are visiting Philadelphia with four wins in their last five on the road and will try to add to that by repeating how they beat the Phillies earlier this season. They outscored the Phillies 20-2 and posted a 31-8 advantage in hits during a two-game home sweep April 30-May 1. The Phillies are hosting the Indians for the second time; a three-game sweep for the Phillies in the other visit on June 22-24, 2010.

Tuesday , May 14 7:05 EDT (STO) 
Scott Kazmir (L) (2-1, 4.87)  vs. Jonathan Pettibone (2-0, 3.63)

Pettibone gave up three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Giants on Wednesday. On paper, it does not seem like an overwhelmingly impressive outing for Pettibone, who finished the day with just one strikeout while throwing 112 pitches. Considering the injuries to Roy Halladay and John Lannan as well as the limited number of viable alternatives in the upper levels of the Phillies' farm system, Pettibone could be in the rotation for the next several weeks.

The Phillies gave Pettibone a $500,000 signing bonus as a third-round pick in 2008 and sent him to the Gulf Coast League for one start. In 2009, Pettibone moved on to the New York-Penn League, where he tossed 35 1/3 innings with a 5.35 ERA as one of the younger players in the league. The Phillies continued to promote him a level at a time as he moved to Low-A in 2010 and put together his first truly successful season, posting a 3.49 ERA in 131 1/3 innings. Pettibone’s breakout campaign came when he tore through the High-A Florida State League in 2011 with a 2.96 ERA, less than a hit per inning, and better than a three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. Pettibone continued his success in 2012 with a strong showing in Double-A before a late-season promotion to Triple-A.

Once in Triple-A, Pettibone earned a 2.55 ERA across seven starts with the best strikeout rate of his career. Back in Triple-A to start the 2013 campaign, Pettibone has posted a 9.64 ERA in two starts. He was called up this month to replace the injured John Lannan in the starting rotation. Pettibone certainly isn’t a flashy pitcher, but he does plenty of things well enough to succeed in the majors. His above-average command allows his deep arsenal to play up across the board. He locates his hard sinking fastball well, as it sits in the 91-92 mph range and can touch 94 when he reaches back for more. He is very tall; his 6’6” frame and high three-quarters arm slot allow him to gain good leverage on his pitches. According to scouts, Pettibone added a cut fastball to his arsenal last season, and there were flashes of effectiveness, giving him a sharper, more consistent pitch with horizontal movement. His slider is a bit softer than his cutter but can still be an average offering at times. Pettibone’s best pitch is a plus changeup that has excellent deception and can miss bats when set up properly. He is capable of pitching backwards to keep hitters off balance but can also find success with more traditional sequences. Pettibone is an intelligent pitcher who gets the most out of his raw stuff and should be able to slot in as a number 4 starter on a good team over the long haul.

Wednesday, May 15 1:05 EDT (STO)
Corey Kluber  (2-2, 5.64) vs. Cole Hamels (L)  (1-5, 4.18)

Hamels took the loss at Arizona on Thursday, allowing two runs and six hits over six innings. He issued five walks and struck out three. Hamels seemed to be fortunate, considering he allowed 11 base-runners. He usually has excellent command, but the walks are starting to become a problem, with 11 free passes in his last three starts.Overall, it’s really just an issue with walks so far this season. His career BB% is 6.3% and in 2013, it’s 10.1%. He’s had two games where he really struggled to spot the ball, but other than that he’s been pretty much as advertised. In fact, if you look at his last six starts, he’s held opposing batters to a .186/.274/.331 slash line and posted a 2.41 ERA and a 22% strikeout rate. The walks are a concern, yes, but his other peripherals are right on target. He will be a guy the Indians will struggle with. 

Prediction: Both teams win one game and split the series. The Indians beat Pettibone on Tuesday evening.

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