By Troy Weller on April 9, 2014
The season may be only seven games old, but there are already a handful of Philadelphia Phillies who could stand to play better. While a 162-game season presents a lot of time to get things straightened out, getting off to a good start is critical to the Phillies' success in 2014. For some players, that hasn't happened yet. Here are five Phillies who need to elevate their play soon.
Cliff Lee makes the list only because his numbers aren't indicative of an ace pitcher. Despite his 2-0 record, Lee has an ERA of 6.00 and has surrendered 21 hits in 12 innings of work. His WHIP is an astronomical 1.83, so he's not getting batters out as much as he used to. For the team's top pitcher, that needs to change.
Jonathan Papelbon may have only blown one save so far, but that's one too many at this stage in the game for a guy getting paid million in 2014. Against the Texas Rangers, Papelbon surrendered a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to prevent the Philadelphia Phillies from moving to 2-1. The team's bullpen isn't particularly strong to begin with, so Papelbon can't afford to be slumping.
While Marlon Byrd has been a welcomed addition in right field, his performance at the plate is lacking. He's batting only .233, and of his seven hits, only one hasn't been a single. His on-base percentage is also poor (.281), so he's not even working walks. For a big bat in the middle of the lineup, Byrd hasn't done much of anything yet.
Catchers aren't known for being amazing hitters, but manager Ryne Sandberg seems to expect more from Carlos Ruiz. Roughly half of his at-bats have been as the team's second or third batter, and he only has a .190 average to show for it. One of the team's top right-handed bats, Ruiz needs to get going.
Brad Lincoln has been awful for the Phillies out of the bullpen. In two appearances, Lincoln has surrendered three earned runs on five hits in just over two innings of work. Without any minor league options remaining, Lincoln's roster spot is in danger when Cole Hamels is set to return from injury.
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