Pick up or Shake Up?
“Sometimes, there’s just no answers. We’re in that area right now where I don’t have any answers.” – Jimmy Rollins.
The Phillies came within one out from suffering their second shutout loss in four games (and their third shutout loss in eight games) in last night’s 5-1 loss to the Padres. After today’s series finale against the Padres, the Phillies play three games against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix and four games against the Cubs at home before hitting the road for six games against Atlanta and Washington.
The Phillies are in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 21 days with 16 of those games on the road.
They are 7-8 this season, while the first-place Nationals are 12-4 and the second-place Braves are 10-5.
You wonder how those standings will look at the end of that stretch if the Phillies keep hitting like they have. They rank 15th in the league in on-base percentage (.279), slugging percentage (.320), extra-base hits (26) and runs per game average (2.80). It’s not like they need to average 5.5 runs per game, either. The Nationals are averaging just 3.63 runs per game, which ranks 13th in the league. The Nationals and Phillies have nearly identical pitching staffs. Washington leads the league with a 2.34 ERA, while the Phillies are second with a 2.41 ERA. But that 0.83 runs per game average advantage over the Phillies has been huge.
And now the Phillies have even less margin for error with Cliff Lee on the disabled list.
“We’re 15 games in. We’ve got a long, long, long ways to go,” Charlie Manuel said.
It is early, but the Phillies don’t want to bury themselves, either. If the Nationals, Braves and Phillies keep playing like they have, the Phillies could find themselves in a deep hole early next month. If it’s deep enough come late June and early July, it could mean a major shake up for the roster. Remember, the Phillies shopped Jayson Werth before the July 2010 trade deadline while they walked that fine line between contender and pretender. The Phillies were 43-40 and six games out of first place on July 6 that season. They were 48-46 and seven games back on July 21.
Wonder what the front office would think if the Phillies are 40-43 on July 6 this season? Or 46-48 on July 21?
You understand why the Phillies keep repeating it’s early, it’s early, it’s early. Panicking won’t help them. But they also know they can’t continue to play like this, especially with a week-long road trip against the Braves and Nationals coming up. It’s early, but it can get late pretty quickly, too.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
- April 29: Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
- May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.