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Slumping Phillies open 3-game set in Detroit Friday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 7/26/2013  at  5:35:00 AM
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First pitch: Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -160, Philadelphia +150, Total: 8

Losers of five in a row, the Phillies sans slugger Domonic Brown will look to reverse their fortunes and begin moving back toward .500 when they open three-game set Friday with the Tigers, who may be without star 3B Miguel Cabrera (hip) again.

Detroit opens an eight-game homestand on Friday, having won four of its past five games. Doug Fister (8-5, 3.90 ERA) takes the mound for them in this one, coming off two consecutive quality starts in which he has a combined 2.25 ERA. He goes up against Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels (4-12, 4.16 ERA) who hasnít been great this year, though heís been far better than his win-loss record suggests (team is 6-15 in his starts). In fact, the Phillies have now won four of his past five starts, where Hamels has a 3.18 ERA. The Tigers are just 13-13 against lefty starters this season, though that may be more coincidence than anything. They are averaging 5.2 runs per game against southpaw starters this season, which is more than their 5.0 runs per game overall. The Detroit lineup rakes at home where it hits .299 and averages 5.4 runs per game, leading to a 29-19 home record (.604, 9th in MLB). The Phillies are now 23-32 on the road (.418, 21st in majors), where they average only 3.7 runs per game. These two teams have not faced each other in the last three years.

Hamels (1.25 WHIP) regressed in his last start, giving up four runs in five innings to the Mets and halting a streak of eight consecutive starts in which he went at least six innings. The story of his season has been a lack of run support, with the Phillies averaging a meager 3.4 runs per game when he takes the hill. This season, Hamels has an impressive 123 strikeouts in 134 innings with just 36 walks. Though he has never started against the Tigers in his career, he is a subpar 7-12 with a 4.49 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in interleague play in his career. On the road in 2013, Hamels has a 3.80 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with a 2-6 record (team is 3-8). Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera is questionable for action Friday, though Hamels will surely be happy if he cannot play. Cabrera, who hasn't played since Monday, is hitting .410 with a 1.327 OPS against southpaws this season, and is 6-for-8 with two doubles, a triple, 4 RBI and four walks against Hamels. 1B Prince Fielder is the only other healthy Detroit player that has faced the lefty at least 10 times, going 8-for-26 (.308 BA) with 2 HR and 5 RBI against him. There is a lot of pressure on Hamels, given that the Phillies bullpen has a 4.51 ERA this season, the third-worst in the majors. Philly relievers also have a dreadful 1.51 WHIP (2nd-worst in MLB) that has helped cause a 15-16 record, which dips to 5-11 on the road.

Fister (1.24 WHIP) has lasted at least six innings in five consecutive starts. In two of those outings he gave up six runs each, while in the other three starts, he gave up a combined four runs. Overall, he has 98 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 2013. At home, he has a 5-3 record (team 5-4) and 3.68 ERA despite seven quality starts in nine tries. He has never started against the Phillies in his career, but two current Phils have hit him hard, 3B Michael Young (6-for-20, .300 BA) and OF Delmon Young (4-for-12, 1 HR, 2 RBI), who hit 18 homers for the Tigers last year. However, Fister has always been a strong interleague pitcher, building a 2.48 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 51 K's and just 7 BB's in 58 innings spanning nine starts. Curiously, he's just 2-3 in those outings. Thereís a lot of pressure on Fister to go deep into the game as well, with the Tigers bullpen ranking fifth-worst in MLB with a 4.08 ERA and 9th-worst with a 1.34 WHIP. They have a miserable 8-16 record as a unit, and their numbers are even worse at home (4.53 ERA, 1.48 WHIP). The Phillies top slugger Domonic Brown (concussion) will be out once again in this one, taking out a hitter who has 19 homers and a .280 BA against righties this season.

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