The Philadelphia Phillies week in review tells the story of a team with some late inning guts and shaky pitching from their starters and bullpen alike. It is the first week of the season so everything that has happened must be taken with a grain of salt. On the other hand, spring training is over and at some point there needs to be some concern… just not today.
Lets start with the bullpen, which has been laughably bad in the first week, sporting a 7.79 ERA, and even worse, let 10 of 11 inherited runners score. In short, the bullpen has been completely useless over the last seven days, and may have been better served if they let me throw my 60 mph fastball, in middle relief. It goes so slow they would have a pretty tough time cranking it over the outfield wall, a problem opponents haven’t had thus far versus the bullpen.
The only time they were effective was in Cliff Lee’s first start, and Cliff pitched eight innings and they only needed Jonathon Papelbon for the final frame. Its early, but this is not an understatement, the bullpen must pull it together or the Phillies will have no shot at making the playoffs.
The starting pitching has been better than the bullpen, but not by much. Cliff Lee threw a great game in the Phillies 2-0 win Thursday versus the Atlanta Braves, and John Lannan was serviceable, but besides that they were bad. How bad? Cole Hamels ERA is 10.97 (2 starts), Roy Halladay’s is 13.50 (1), and Kyle Kendrick’s is 7.94 (1). Obviously its incredibly early to be counting starters earned run averages a gospel, so for now, I’m going to let those numbers speak for themselves.
The one decent aspect of the Phillies first week was the offense, which was still streaky. Against the Kansas City Royals they scored the wide margin of their runs in either the first or last innings. In Sundays loss they put up four in the first and four more in the ninth, and three more in their walk off win on Saturday. This method of early and late scoring will work against the bad teams, but when the starters they face are Steven Strasburg, Johnny Cueto or Matt Cain, odds are they won’t score those runs. Same goes with the closers they face, who won’t be Greg Holland all season. Big names like Rafael Soriano or Craig Kimbrel won’t let those runs up, and those are the guys the Phillies will need to beat to stay competitive.
Late inning heroics are great, they bring the team together, add confidence, boost morale, but they cannot be depended on.
Overall, the first week could have gone better, and could have easily gone worse, given that one of their two wins was a two out walk off double by Kevin Frandsen. If the Phillies want any shot at the postseason the men who throw the ball need to do it more effectively, and the men who hit it need to do it more often than the first and last frames. There is good news though, and its two fold: the Phillies play the New York Mets and Miami Marlins this week, and the season is still very, very young.