There is an expression, or something like that, that goes “If you want to look smart, then find the stupidest person you know, and then stand next to him.” It's not an actual expression, at least not one that's even been on a Starbucks cup, but the point is that everything is relative: beauty, intelligence, even success in baseball.
And right now, the Phillies could use some of that relativity. Coming off a series victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which helped them split a 10-game road trip, they could use a little help in getting over the .500 mark for the season.
Thankfully, the Chicago Cubs – who are not without their own issues – are coming into town for a four-game set, and it's just what the Phillies need to keep their momentum going.
The Cubbies, who underwent a regime change in the off-season when they welcomed in former Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein, haven't quite seen the change reflected on the field. They're 6-10 heading into Friday's game and should prove to be an fairly easy opponent.*
*This blogger is not responsible for any jinxes that may arise out of this post.
While the Phillies have dealt with offensive issues of their own, the Cubs are proving to be every bit as inept, as they are sitting near the bottom of the league in OPS (.628), on-base percentage (.294), slugging (.333), and batting average, while coming in dead-last in the league in homers (7).
That's the result of the Cubs not having any decent bats in their lineup, save for the youngster Starlin Castro, who is sporting a .333 batting average through 19 games. The slick-fielding shortstop is among the only few bright spots for the Cubbies, whose lineup also consists of Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart, and David DeJesus.
On the other site of the ball, the Cubs aren't too much better. Their pitching staff is near the bottom of the league in ERA (4.37), ERA+ (92), WHIP (1.365), walks (76) and SO/BB (1.76). Among the starters the Phillies will be facing are LHP Paul Maholm (1-2, 8.36), RHP Randy Wells (0-0, 3.60), RHP Matt Garza (1-1, 3.38), and RHP Jeff Samardzjia (2-1, 4.13).
Conversely, the Phillies will be throwing Roy Halladay, (3-1, 1.50), Joe Blanton (1-3, 4.34), Kyle Kendrick, (0-1, 9.39), and Vance Worley (2-1, 2.16) at the four-game set. They will still have to deal with the brief loss of Cliff Lee, but the weak Cubs offense is going to go a long way to soften that blow.
This series won't be a breeze, because in baseball, nothing ever is. But the Phillies are just another good series away from being over .500 on the season. And with the punchless Cubs in town, this could be just the opportunity that they need.