Rumored to be sellers at Tuesday's trade deadline, the Philadelphia Phillies may deal starter Cliff Lee before tonight's opener of a three-game series against the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
It has been reported the Texas Rangers are interested in re-acquiring Lee to bolster their run towards another AL West crown, but there has also been speculation that Lee would remain a Phillie even though the club is battling through a tumultuous season.
Nonetheless, Lee is slated to make his 18th start of the year and holds just a 1-6 record with a 3.95 earned run average. The high-priced left-hander is 0-1 in his previous three starts and did not record a decision his last time out in a 7-6 win over Milwaukee last Tuesday, when he was banged around for six runs and 12 hits, including four home runs, in seven innings before the Phils rallied for a win.
Lee, who hasn't won since July 4, is only 1-2 in 10 road assignments this season and 3-2 with a 2.89 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals.
Lee, however, is not the only player Philadelphia is rumored to be shopping. Outfielders Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre, and starting pitcher Joe Blanton could depart the City of Brotherly Love in separate deals for a club that sits last in the division at 16 1/2 games off the pace. The Phillies were swept in three games at Atlanta over the weekend following a four-game winning streak and recently dropped a 6-2 decision on Sunday.
Ace Roy Halladay posted the 2,000th strikeout of his career, but was saddled with the loss for giving up three runs and six hits in six innings. Victorino homered and finished with three hits and two runs scored for the Phillies, the five-time defending NL East champions. Pence had two hits in defeat.
Washington will begin a seven-game homestand tonight and has won two straight and eight of nine games. The club holds a 3 1/2-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East and squeezed out an 11-10 win in 11 innings Sunday in the finale of a four-game series at Milwaukee.
Michael Morse had a two-run double in the top of the 11th inning to put Washington ahead for good and finished 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and a pair of runs scored. Steve Lombardozzi had three hits and also homered, while Roger Bernadina went deep for the Nationals.
"Every game is the most important game," said Washington manager Davey Johnson. "I never worry about things. I have no control over it. I have a good ball club and I expect them to play good. If we play like we're capable of playing I won't worry about things."
Craig Stammen picked up the win in relief, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and Tyler Clippard notched his 20th save. Gio Gonzalez got the start and yielded five runs, four of which were earned, in six innings.
Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche left the game in the middle of the fourth inning with back tightness and is day-to-day. Nats rookie Bryce Harper overcame a stomach virus and was able to play Sunday.
"I felt like it was kind of going the other direction today," LaRoche told the club's website. "I felt like the more I stood around in the field and sat on the bench, the tighter it was getting. Hopefully tomorrow (Monday), having a day off can get it feeling better."
The Nationals, who will also welcome Miami to town for four games on this homestand, are scheduled to send young ace Stephen Strasburg to the mound tonight and he is reportedly on limited innings. Strasburg has tossed 117 1/3 innings this season and is 2-0 in his past three starts since losing three in a row. He fanned 11 batters and allowed one run in seven innings during a 5-2 victory against the New York Mets on Wednesday, improving to 11-4 in 20 starts and lowering his ERA to 2.76.
Strasburg, a right-hander, allowed three runs in six innings of a no-decision versus the Phillies this season and has no record and a 3.48 ERA in two career starts against them.
Washington has won four of six matchups with Philadelphia in 2012 and is 9-2 in the past 11 meetings between the two ballclubs.