The Phillies have the right man on the mound to help them get back to .500 and rebound from Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the NL-worst Diamondbacks.
Cliff Lee takes the ball (3-2, 3.02) for the Phils on Saturday night and opposes Arizona’s veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 9.50).
Despite Friday night’s defeat, the Phillies (11-12) can still win the series against the Diamondbacks (8-18) with Lee starting tonight and A.J. Burnett Sunday to finish the team’s 10-game road trip a commendable 6-4.
But first, Lee and the Phils need to take care of business tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.
Here are five things you need to know:
1. Riding Cliff
If Lee continues rolling in Arizona, the Phillies should come away with a win.
Over his last four starts, Lee has a 1.20 ERA in 30 innings with 37 strikeouts to just one walk.
Facing the Braves and Dodgers — two of the more potent offenses in the National League — his last two outings, Lee pitched 17 innings of one-run ball, while striking out 23 and walking just one.
Since 2011, the southpaw is 2-1 (four starts) against the Diamondbacks with a 3.10 ERA and .212 opponents’ batting average.
2. Matchup to watch
Keep an eye on Lee versus Paul Goldschmidt. Arizona may be in the basement of the National League, but it still has an MVP-caliber hitter in the heart of its order in Goldschmidt.
Knowing Lee’s propensity to throw strikes and get ahead in counts, the lefty will likely challenge the Diamondbacks’ first baseman, but the Phils should not let Goldschmidt beat them this weekend, especially with power threat Mark Trumbo out six weeks because of a stress fracture in his foot.
Goldschmidt is 2 for 9 (.222) lifetime off Lee with both hits being home runs.
3. Scouting Arroyo
Arroyo, Arizona’s offseason acquisition, has struggled in his first four starts. A consistent strike-thrower throughout his career, the righty has walked nearly as many (seven) as he’s struck out (eight), while giving up 19 earned runs in 18 innings.
The soft-throwing 37-year-old relies heavily on movement, as he primarily throws a mid-80s sinker, mid-70s curveball and high-70s changeup, while mixing in an 87-mph fastball.
It could be a big night for the Phillies’ lefties. Arroyo owns a career .290 opponents’ batting average versus left-handers and Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown have all taken him deep and are hitting a collective .307 off him.
4. Adams-Papelbon combo
Lee loves to finish games and with the Phils’ bullpen sporting the majors’ second-worst ERA (5.45), it’s never a bad idea for Lee to pitch into the late innings.
But you would hate to see Lee have to kill himself every start, so if he can go seven strong and exit with a lead on Saturday night, it sure would be nice to see what the Phillies had drawn up when they acquired Mike Adams: Have the setup man hold it in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon close it in the ninth.
5. This and that
• Arroyo is 4-7 lifetime against the Phillies with a 5.35 ERA.
• Marlon Byrd is 10 for 27 (.370) off Arroyo in his career with two homers.
• The Diamondbacks are a major-league worst 2-11 at home.
• The Phils have not lost a series to Arizona since April 25-27 of 2011.
• Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill has six hits and five RBIs in his last 12 at-bats.
• Utley is fourth in the National League in hitting (.358).