The forecast Friday is calling for sunny skies and a high of 70 in Philadelphia, where Cliff Lee will take the mound against Stephen Strasburg in the first meeting between the Phillies and Washington Nationals in 2014.
Rain persisted in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and for the third time in the season's first month, it altered the Phillies schedule. Wednesday night's scheduled game against the New York Mets will now be played on Monday, June 2 at Citizens Bank Park.
With days off already scheduled this week on Monday and tomorrow (Thursday), the Phils find themselves playing one game in a four-day span. It allowed the coaching staff to manipulate the rotation, which they've done.
Both Roberto Hernandez and Kyle Kendrick have seen their scheduled turns pushed back. By doing so, the Phillies have matched up their top three starters against the Nationals this weekend: Lee starts Friday, followed by A.J. Burnett on Saturday and Cole Hamels on Sunday.
The Phillies had positive results the last time they shuffled their rotation: last week, when Hamels returned from the DL, the Phils slotted him after Lee and Burnett at Dodger Stadium. The Phillies took three of the four games against the Dodgers, thanks in large part to strong starting pitching.
The Phils received strong starting pitching for the majority of that 10-game road trip, capped by Burnett's eight strong innings in Phoenix on Sunday. Overall, though, the starting rotation's numbers don't look great after the season's first month.
The rotation's 4.06 ERA is 12th (out of 15 teams) in the National League. They rank 14th in opponents' batting average (.290) and OBP (.343); they ranked 13th in opponents' OPS (776). The rotation's 2.63 strikeout-to-walk ration ranks 12th.
"I like our rotation," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday. "They've pitched well and kept us in games for the most part."
Amaro also mentioned how pitching numbers can get skewed early in the season, and he has a point: take away Cliff Lee's first and last starts and Cole Hamels' off-kilter outing Tuesday against the Mets and those numbers certainly aren't as bad. And, of course, factor in that Hamels didn't make his first start until a week ago.
Regardless of its April numbers, the rotation figures to be set up just how the Phillies would want with Washington coming into town this weekend.
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