If you still aren't sold, consider the two times Johnson and Halladay squared off against each other last season. The first game, at Sun Life Stadium on May 29, featured Halladay throwing a perfect game and Johnson allowing one unearned run in seven innings. The second game, at Citizens Bank Park on June 10, featured Johnson throwing eight scoreless innings and Halladay allowing one run in a 2-0 Marlins victory. All told, the two pitchers combined to limit the opposition to one earned run in 32 innings in the two games they faced each other.
Johnson is more of a power pitcher than Halladay, offsetting his mid-90s fastball with a lethal slider. Halladay, meanwhile, can throw four pitches for strikes in any count.
"I think they both throw with great angle, great downward plane," Dubee said. "I think they love competition. They both compete like mad out there. J.J.'s probably more of a strikeout guy, but Roy's striking more people out this year."
Halladay is averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, sixth-best in the NL. Johnson checks in at 8.6 strikeouts-per-nine. Both pitchers have allowed only one home run each in seven starts.
Dubee compared Johnson's ability to throw the ball at a downward angle with Phillies lefty Cole Hamels.
"I think they are the two of the better ones that I've seen in this league," Dubee said.
The Phillies have tentatively penciled in Roy Oswalt as the Tuesday starter next week in St. Louis. The veteran righthander, who has had a sore back, threw a bullpen session Sunday and responded well. He will throw off the mound again today. Assuming all goes well, he will make a rehab start on Thursday, likely in Clearwater, before rejoining the team in Atlanta. Oswalt then will be activated from the disabled list and start against the Cardinals, exactly 3 weeks after his last start in Arizona.
Oswalt could end up throwing to his regular catcher on Thursday, as Carlos Ruiz (back) was expected to travel to Clearwater last night after taking batting practice in Miami.
With Roy Oswalt penciled in Tuesday, the Phillies will start Cole Hamels on Friday on normal rest, meaning righthanders Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley will both spend the week in the bullpen. Kendrick and Worley have pitched well in spot starts, but Thursday's off day allows the Phils to go with four pitchers until Oswalt returns. Joe Blanton will start against the Braves on Saturday, followed by Roy Halladay Sunday, and Cliff Lee and Oswalt against the Cardinals on Monday and Tuesday.
Jose Contreras continues to play catch. No word on when he will throw his first bullpen session. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that Contreras remains on his initial prognosis, which called for a 3-to-4-week absence. Rich Dubee labeled his progress "dandy" yesterday . . . Ross Gload was in the lineup in rightfield in place of Ben Francisco, who is hitting .190 with four extra-base hits in 26 games after starting the season hitting .357 with four extra-base hits in his first seven games. Gload had been 16-for-38 with three doubles, two triples and a home run against Marlins starter Javier Vazquez, then touched him for an RBI single in the third inning.