I'm a little under the weather today so I'm just going to put up a game thread early and go back to bed.
Tuesday I thought, "Uh-Oh...This is it!" How long can we really expect him to be as good as he's been all season? On the other hand, he has been a different pitcher this year and what happened Tuesday is going to happen whenever he's unable to get the ball down. But I really believe that we've seen the real thing this year. You can put lipstick on a pig for 3-4 starts but not for 21. Hopefully we'll see today what we've seen for most of the season and not what we saw Tuesday.
As for Zach Duke...well, he's a serviceable starter -- a lefty who's a decent 3rd or 4th starter. But when I saw that he'd been named to the All-Star team to replace Jonathan Broxton, I almost collapsed. No Javier Vazquez. No Joel Pineiro. No Chris Carpenter. Zach friggin' Duke? Seriously? (I guess I was also stunned that Charlie Manuel didn't name a Phillie since he put nearly his entire roster on the team! Wasn't that Jamie Moyer I saw warming up in the pen in the 8th inning of the All-Star Game? But I digress...) Duke has roughly a league average FIP and a solid BB rate but he doesn't get enough ground balls to make up for the fact that he strikes out barely 4.5 batters per 9 IP. He's been good against the Cardinals so far this season, probably b/c we don't seem to do very well against pitchers of his ilk. His fastball's gotten pounded this year but his slider, curve, and change have all been plus pitches for him. Approximately 45% of the pitches he's thrown this year have been off-speed pitches.
Here's the good news -- though we've been awful this year against lefties, we've been pretty good against them (small sample size alert!) since this game -- the first w/ Holliday, DeRosa, and Lugo in the lineup. Since then we've faced some pretty good lefties -- J.A. Happ, Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw, Wandy Rodriguez (for 4 innings), Johan Santana, and Paul Maholm -- and we've acquitted ourselves quite well except for being shut down by Kershaw. We've scored 17 runs in 40.2 innings against lefthanded starters since Holliday's arrival. Hopefully 3-4 today will be enough.