One of the most oft repeated phrases in Major League clubhouse’s each April is “it’s still early”, its frequently said because it’s true. The small sample size isn’t yet large enough to draw any definitive conclusions about any player or team, but as teams finish up their first 10 games the expiration date on “it’s still early” is fast approaching. The Phillies rocky start is slightly jarring given the team has lorded over the N.L. East for a few years now, but as we already know it’s still early and the consensus is this is still going to be one of the teams to beat in the senior circuit.
The main reason for this is the starting pitching which is arguably the best in baseball, Halladay, Lee and Hamels is as dominant a threesome as you’ll find, on the flip side there’s the injuries to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the cornerstones to this Phillies offense which has played a major role in the Phillies recent dominance in the N.L. East. As we stand thus far the Phillies are 5-5 in 4th place in the division, losing early series to the Pirates and Mets, ESPN’s Buster Olney noted in spring training that the Phillies had one of the more favorable schedules early in the season, labeling it a “launching pad”. It started out more like a stumbling block, but it appears the Phillies have begun to right the ship. Last night Roy Halladay improved to 3-0 out dueling fellow ace Tim Lincecum leading the Phillies to a 5-2 victory in San Francisco, where the Doc struck out six and allowed seven hits through eight innings pitched. This pulled the Phils to .500 and the notoriously demanding Philly fans are hoping the wins will come in greater abundance going forward.
The concerns about the offense remain as Philadelphia currently ranks 27th in runs scored and 24th in on base percentage without the right side of their infield. The offense has received help from another member of their veteran core, shortstop Jimmy Rollins who’s hitting .351 which leads the team. Last year’s prized trade deadline acquisition Hunter Pence is picking up where he left off leading the team in HR, RBI and on base percentage. Jim Thome was signed in the offseason to provide some power off the bench but the veteran slugger had started slowly, with 1 hit in his first 10 at bats. Another bench acquisition Ty Wigginton has helped the Phillies replace some of the power they lost at first with Howard out, Wigginton is not only versatile in the field, with the ability to play first, third and some outfield, he’s also producing at the plate, in 7 games and 18 at bats he’s totaled 4 hits which include a double and homer, 4 runs and 5 RBI, which has him tied with Pence for the team lead in home runs and RBI’s.
As previously mentioned the starting pitching is expected to be what holds the team together throughout the season. Roy Halladay is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.17 and Cole Hamels is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA and leads the team with 19 strikeouts. Cliff Lee has gotten off to a rough start by his standards, with a 0-1 record and a 3.46 ERA and 11 strikeouts, on the bright side Lee is sporting a team best whip of 0.69
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Written by Tom Bopp