Forget 20; Doc could win 25 games

The presumption among rival talent evaluators before the start of the season was that Roy Halladay had the talent to take advantage of the weaker National League lineups that he would face as a member of the Phillies -- but also that he had the intelligence. And that is exactly what has happened.

"What you see is that he is challenging hitters a lot more with his fastball," said one talent evaluator who has seen two of Halladay's recent starts. "He's not messing around. He's got a cutter and a slider-curve thing he throws, but really, he is just using his fastball more.

"I think his attitude is to be aggressive and challenge hitters, because he knows that even if he gives up a hit, the lineups he is facing now are forgiving. If he gives up a leadoff double to the No. 6 guy in the lineup, then he knows he can use the No. 8 and No. 9 spots to dig himself out of the rally. This has freed him up to attack hitters with his fastball."

He has four starts for the Phillies so far, a relatively small sample, but he has needed only 12.5 pitches per inning, which is significantly lower than his mark of 14.2 pitches per inning in 2009.

Some other numbers of dominance:

His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an incredible 9.33.

Opponents' OPS against him is .524, which is not something you see from starting pitchers -- short relievers, yes, but not starters.

He has allowed just one homer.

Opponents are 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

"He'll get 20 wins," said another evaluator. "On that team, with that [Phillies] lineup hitting for him, I think the question is whether he'll get 25."

Which would be remarkable stuff, given that no pitcher has reached 25 wins since Bob Welch in 1990.

Padres off to a fast start

You can't stop the Padres; you can only hope to contain them: That's seven consecutive victories for San Diego, after the Padres blasted the Reds on Friday night behind a strong effort from Kevin Correia. Matt Stairs started and had a nice game in left field.

Some numbers on the Padres' start:

    ERA: 2.90 (ranked first among 30 teams)

    Opponents' batting average: .224 (2nd)

    K/BB ratio: 2.47 (5th)

Walk (off) this way

Andruw Jones had a unique way of celebrating his birthday, Kenton Wong of ESPN Stats & Information writes. The guys who hit two homers on their birthday, with one being a walk-off:

    Andruw Jones, Chicago White Sox, Friday

    Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers, July 27, 2002

    Jim Beauchamp, New York Mets, Aug. 21, 1972

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Ben Zobrist is fired up about his contract extension, Marc Topkin writes. He has proven his worth to the Rays, writes Joe Henderson.

2. Jerry Manuel moved Jose Reyes into the 3-hole, and the Mets won. It is the right thing to do, because of the depth it creates in Manuel's lineup. Ike Davis mashed his first career home run, Andy Martino writes.

3. Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano will be in the spotlight Saturday night, writes Gordon Wittenmyer.

4. Daisuke Matsuzaka will get his first start next weekend.

5. Brennan Boesch scrambled to get to the big leagues, Lynn Henning writes.

6. The Jays' prospect from Cuba is going to start out as a DH, writes Morgan Campbell.

7. Brandon Wood was given a night off. It would figure that he doesn't have a lot of chances left, given his performance in the big leagues over the past four seasons: This year, he's 4-for-46, with four singles and 15 strikeouts.

8. Bruce Bochy is thinking about using Nate Schierholtz in the leadoff spot, Andrew Baggarly writes within this piece.

9. Drew Stubbs is moving up in the Cincinnati lineup, again.

10. Nelson Figueroa is getting the ball Saturday.

11. The Royals cut Juan Cruz.

Dings and dents

1. Kerry Wood had a setback.

2. John Maine came out of Friday's game with pain in his non-pitching elbow, and there is a perception that he has some emotional issues to sort through, writes John Harper.

3. Within this Bill Center notebook, there is word that the Padres' Chris Young is making progress in his rehab.

4. Nick Punto landed on the disabled list.

5. Manny Ramirez was placed on the disabled list.

6. Ryan Zimmerman is confident he will be back soon.

7. Matt Joyce is going to miss another month, in all likelihood. Within the same piece, there is word that J.P. Howell is making progress in his rehab.

8. Carlos Guillen strained a hammy and went on the DL.

Friday's games

1. Tim Lincecum is just about perfect, John Shea writes. Why Lincecum won, from Puneet Nanda of ESPN Stats & Information:

Against his changeup, hitters went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts, missed 53 percent of swings and chased 60 percent out of the strike zone. Lincecum's changeup has been nearly unhittable the past three starts: