While the majority of attention will be paid toward Roy Halladay tonight, another important story line will begin to unfold when the Phillies have the bats in their hands. Last season, the Phillies went 23-30 in games where they faced a left-handed starter. That's what they will be up against tonight in Braves veteran Paul Maholm, who had an excellent spring training that included an outing against the Phillies. The central characters are not a surprise. Just look back to last Sept. 2, when the Phillies scored seven runs against Maholm. Five of those runs came in the first inning, three of them on a double by Erik Kratz. John Mayberry Jr. also singled and scored a run in that frame, while Ty Wigginton drew a walk. The Phillies scored their other two runs in the third inning, which led off with a Wigginton walk and a Mayberry double. I'll be interested to see if Charlie Manuel does something different with his lineup tonight in order to break up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, although both had hits against Maholm last September (including a two-run double by Howard). Ben Revere had a good game in the leadoff spot on Monday night, but keep in mind that Jimmy Rollins has struggled the last couple of seasons from the right side of the plate. Use the same lineup, and the Phillies are starting off with four straight hitters who struggle against lefties (Revere-Rollins-Utley-Howard).
One potential lineup:
1. Jimmy Rollins SS (SHB)
2. Chase Utley 2B (LHB)
3. Michael Young 3B (RHB)
4. Ryan Howard 1B (LHB)
5. John Mayberry Jr. RF (RHB)
6. Domonic Brown LF (LHB)
7. Erik Kratz C (RHB)
8. Ben Revere CF (LHB)
Hitting Revere eighth is not ideal. Problem is, I'm not sure there is an ideal batting order given the pieces in play.
Here's today's Phillies coverage:
Curt Schilling tells Ryan Lawrence that every workhorse pitcher "hits a wall" at some point and has to adapt. Roy Halladay may have hit that wall.
Here's an update on Delmon Young along with some other news and notes.
Sam Donnellon has the Phillies as part of a jumbled race for one of the two National League wild card spots. Here's how he sees the season shaking out.
Bob Brookover notes that tonight's game is rare in its importance. In many ways, it could provide a glimpse of the season ahead.
I don't think Hallady will take the mound to Tupac tonight, but all eyez are definitely on him, as Phil Sheridan writes.