Phillies (27-28) vs. Brewers (25-30)
3:05 p.m. on CSN
After ending a season-high seven-game losing skid on Friday, the Phillies look to start a new winning streak on Saturday. Jeremy Hellickson takes the hill for the Phils in the third game of a four-game set with the Brewers.
Here are five things to look for:
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1. Looking for same consistency from Hellickson
Hellickson gave an exemplary performance in his last start in an effort to end the losing streak before the bullpen coughed up the lead. Now he has a chance to bring the Phillies back to .500 with a win.
Hellickson had arguably his best start of the season on May 30 vs. the Nationals, going seven innings while allowing just three hits and one run. He didn't walk anyone and had eight strikeouts.
The veteran righty has been the Phillies most consistent starter. He gave up three runs or fewer in each of his last five starts and eight of his 11 starts this season. His ERA has improved in each of his last four starts, shaving 1.23 runs off it.
Overall, Hellickson has been better than expected in his first two months in Philadelphia and could make a strong trade chip at the deadline if he can match his early results over the next 6-8 weeks.
2. Junior is a misnomer
Junior Guerra may be in just his second MLB season but at 31-years-old, he is the oldest starting pitcher in the Brewers rotation right now, making his first name a little misleading. He will make just the seventh start and 10th appearance of his career. He will face the Phillies for the first time.
If there's one thing that Guerra excels at, it's striking people out. He has at least six strikeouts in four of his six starts this season, including an 11 strikeout performance against the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on May 19.
He relies on his fastball, which he throws more than 50 percent of the time. It tops out at 95.9 MPH and has an average velocity of 93.3 MPH. His splitter accounts for 27.8 percent of his pitches and a fair amount of his strikeouts. A curveball is his third most used pitch.
In his last start, he picked up his first career loss, giving up four runs, three earned, in 6 1/3 innings. He didn't walk any batters for the first time this year and struck out six.
3. Tommy boy
Tommy Joseph continued the strong start to his rookie campaign on Friday while batting in the cleanup spot. Two well-hit balls fell in for singles to raise his average to .286 after a 2-for-4 night.
With Ryan Howard relegated to the bench for now, Joseph has taken to the middle of the order. The average launch speed for his batted balls according to Statcast has been over 100 mph compared to a league average of 88.9 mph. That stat indicates that the rookie is hitting the ball with authority and not just getting lucky with balls falling in.
One concern would be his lack of walks. Joseph saw just nine pitches in four at-bats on Friday and hasn't drawn a walk since his first game. Meanwhile, he has struck out 14 times in 49 ABs. However, if he keeps hitting at the decent clip he's at right now, the Phillies can live with the strikeouts.
4. Players to watch
Phillies: I'll go with whoever the Phillies start behind the plate for contrasting reasons. Cameron Rupp had quite the night on Friday, sparking the Phillies offense with a solo home run in the 3rd inning before following that up with a hustle double and a walk. Meanwhile, Carlos Ruiz has failed ot get on base in his last five games. Ruiz has caught Hellickson's last two starts.
Brewers: Ryan Braun has the Phillies' number in his career, although you wouldn't know it watching the first two games of the series. Braun is 1-for-8 with a walk the last two nights, moving his batting average from .352 to .341. Going into Friday, Braun had a .383 average with 20 home runs and 52 RBI in 59 games against the Phillies for his career.
5. This and that
• In 2015, the Phillies followed up their first seven-game losing streak with a two-game win streak on June 2-3 against the Cincinnati Reds.
• Hellickson is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three career starts against the Brewers. He averages six innings and four strikeouts per appearance against Milwaukee.
• Brewers 1B Chris Carter is 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and a walk against Hellickson in his career.
• Braun is 1-for-7 with two walks against Hellickson.