Yes, It's Still Early
Up and down.
Down and up.
This is no way for a World Series champion to behave, is it?
But here’s the thing: the Phillies were 16-13 at this point last season. They battled through inconsistencies until September, when they caught fire and steamrolled through the postseason. Is this team’s pitching a concern? Absolutely, it is. This team is not going anywhere unless the starting pitching improves dramatically. Does Jimmy Rollins need to turn things around? Certainly. The Phillies can’t have a .200 hitter at the top of their lineup for an entire season.
That said, let’s take a look at how the ’09 Phillies compare to the ’08 Phillies through 29 games:
2009: 164 (5.66 runs per game)
2008: 136 (4.69 runs per game)
Opponent batting average
The ’09 Phillies have been better offensively and defensively than the ’08 Phillies. But the ’09 Phillies’ pitching has been an absolute killer. Let’s say the extra 24 homers the Phillies have allowed this season compared to last season are solo homers. Now let’s say the Phillies only gave up 10 extra homers compared to ’08. It drops their ERA from a 5.39 ERA to a 4.90 ERA. Now, a 4.90 ERA certainly isn’t good, but it maybe helps the Phillies win an extra game (or two). The long ball is hurting this team in a major way.
There is time for the Phillies to find their way. Fans looking for the Phillies to make massive changes to their rotation shouldn’t hold their breath. About the only change they can make is removing Chan Ho Park for J.A. Happ. Other than that, this is what the Phillies have.
“You guys seem like you’re in a freakin’ hurry for us to do something with our pitching,” Charlie Manuel said Friday. “We won a World Series with four of those starters. That was our rotation. And the other guy, he pitched very good in Spring Training.”
So hold tight for now. It’s early. When does it start getting late? I imagine the Phillies would like to have seen significant improvements from the rotation by the time they start making their 11th or 12th starts. That’s five or six more starts.
Rollins’ .218 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot is the worst in baseball. Interestingly, Rollins, who is hitting .195, hasn’t had a stretch like this since he hit .155 over 20 games in August 2005.
He followed that stretch with a franchise-record 36-game hitting streak.