The Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals are in the spotlight on Wednesday Night Baseball (ESPN2, 7 ET), with reigning Cy Young winner Roy Halladay on the bump for Philadelphia and John Lannan taking the ball for the Nats.
Last year, Halladay won all three of his starts against Washington in dominant fashion. Halladay allowed just one earned run in 23 innings, and had a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was in shutdown mode when the Nats threatened to score, allowing just one hit in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Last year was not an aberration for Halladay against the Nationals. Since 2003, Halladay is 8-0 in nine starts with a 1.62 ERA against Washington.
John Lannan, Career
Lannan, on the other hand, might be praying for rain in the D.C. area. He's 0-8 with a 6.09 ERA in 11 career starts against the Phillies. His 6.09 ERA is the third highest over the last 65 seasons among pitchers who have made at least 10 starts against the Phillies. His 0-8 record is the worst versus Philadelphia by any starting pitcher in the last 65 seasons.
Although Lannan has not had success against the Phillies, he has been able to shut down Ryan Howard. He's hitting a paltry .185 against the southpaw, with only five hits in 27 at-bats. Recent history doesn’t suggest a turnaround for Howard, either, with just one hit -- a home run last season -- in his last 17 at-bats against Lannan.
On Tuesday in his first game against his former team, Jayson Werth doubled and homered in Washington's 7-4 win. Since divisional play began in 1969, Werth is the fourth player coming off a 25 home-run season to switch from a first-place team to a last-place team within the same division during the offseason, this according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Werth joins Shawn Green (Dodgers to Diamondbacks in 2005), Gorman Thomas (Brewers to Indians in 1983) and Mike Epstein (A's to Rangers in 1973) as players to make this unusual move.
So far this season, Werth’s impact on the Nationals has been a mixed bag. Known for his patience at the plate and ability to work counts, Werth ranked first in the National League in pitches per plate appearance in each of the last three seasons. Last year, the Nationals ranked eighth in the league in pitches seen. With Werth in the lineup this season, they are averaging a National League-best 3.92 pitches per plate appearance.
Last season, Werth hit a major-league worst .186 with runners in scoring position. The Nationals were hoping that he would rebound in 2011, looking to improve a Washington offense that last year ranked 13th in the league in batting average with RISP. However, through 10 games, Werth is still struggling to find his hitting stroke. He has just one hit in six at-bats with RISP, and so far is not helping a Nationals' team that's hitting .202 in such situations this season.