By John Rader on April 28, 2014
It is almost a month into the 2014 MLB season, and the Philadelphia Phillies currently sit in fourth place in the NL East with an admirable 13-12 record. One of the big storylines for the Phillies thus far is that they have stayed healthy and are hitting for decent average. Their bullpen has been a mess and extremely unreliable, but closer Jonathan Papelbon has settled in as of late.
The Phillies are batting .259 so far this season, eighth-best in MLB. They have struggled to hit with any power, ranking 22nd in the league with only 18 home runs and 20th with 65 extra-base hits. They’re getting the job done with RISP, batting .265, good for fifth-best. They need to keep getting on base, but need to find a way to get runners across the plate.
Statistically, the Phillies have played well defensively but they still need to clean things up and minimize the mistakes. They rank fifth in the league with a .985 fielding percentage and are sixth with 14 errors. These numbers may be skewed a bit because we all know Howard has had his struggles this season, but has only been credited with two errors. The Phillies have also turned a league-worst 13 double plays.
The Phillies' starters have been hit or miss, but the return of Hamels should improve their numbers. So far, opponents are batting .286, 28th in MLB, against Phillies starters. Although they have allowed 75 runs, the defense behind them has contributed to 11 unearned runs. Ironically, opponents have grounded out 200 times so far this season, second-most in the majors, but have only had four DPs behind them.
The Phillies' bullpen has been atrocious. They hold the 28th-ranked ERA at 5.14 and have only converted 8 of 13 save opportunities. Papelbon has settled in since his early-season blunder but on his off days, no one has been able to close the door. He has converted eight of his nine opportunities while the rest of the team is 0-for-4. It has been a struggle getting from the starters to the closer and there has been no consistency.
The Phillies typically get off to a slow start (14-11 at this point in 2008 when they won WS) and it’s expected that the New York Mets will not keep up their current pace. If they can continue to hit, stay healthy and find some consistency from their pitching staff the Phillies could still be competitive throughout the season. They are 4-4 through eight series so far this season, but need to prove they can compete with the top teams.
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