Arguably the two odds on favorites for the 2011 NL Cy Young face each other tonight as the Phillies take on the Marlins in the second of their three game series. Roy Halladay goes for the Phillies, facing Josh Johnson.
Both hurlers are off to fantastic starts, each ranking among the top 10 in ERA. Johnson (1.68) edges Halladay (2.19) in that category, however Halladay has posted the better FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which measures what a pitcher can control better than ERA) with a mark of 1.49 (best in MLB) to Johnson's 2.23. Halladay also strikes out more batters and walks fewer.
ESPN had a great stat about the combined dominance of these two over the first three innings of the game. They've allowed three earned runs and struck out a total of 50 over the first three frames of games this year. So, if you're a little late tuning in tonight, no big deal. You probably won't have missed much.
Tonight should be fun for fans (well, Phillies fans at least), but will also be a treat for Johnson, who is a great admirer of Halladay. Buster Olney related an interesting story about that today.
One day last summer, Johnson threw his standard bullpen session between starts, and as he finished his work, he noticed that in the home bullpen in Philadelphia, Halladay was about to start a bullpen session of his own. Johnson asked Rich Dubee, the Phillies' pitching coach, if Halladay would mind if he watched -- and after checking with the Philadelphia ace, Dubee said that would be fine.
So like a kid in the stands, Johnson took a seat and watched Halladay go through his work, and he was struck by how consistent Halladay's delivery is, regardless of what pitch he was throwing. "Exactly the same with every single pitch," Johnson recalled, in a phone conversation on Monday evening.
Halladay has been dominant against the Marlins, going 3-0 in his past three starts posting 1.46 ERA with 32 Ks and just two walks (oh, and one perfect game). Johnson was solid in his only start against the Phillies last year going 8 innings and allowing two runs en route to a win.