It Gets Harder from Here

Jose FernandezThis is the challenge the Phillies face tonight.

Following four consecutive losses by four or more runs, the Phillies must step into the batter’s box tonight at Citizens Bank Park and try to beat Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who went 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts against them last season, striking out 16 batters in 18 innings and holding them to a .359 OPS.

Fernandez has been dominant in his first two starts this year: eight hits, one run, two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

If the Phillies can’t crack the Hernandez code they will fall to 3-7. But it’s early, right? I’ve been reminded the 2007 Phillies opened the season 4-11 before winning the National League East. But a few things to remember there: the Phillies needed to finish 13-4 and the Mets needed to finish 5-12 to make it happen. It also took the Phillies until May 16 to get back to .500, and that team had the best offense in the National League and three MVP-caliber players in their prime in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. This team can’t say that. Perhaps when Cole Hamels returns the Phillies can say they have a formidable 1-2-3 punch atop their rotation, but they still need nights when they can string together a bunch of hits.

Ask Cliff Lee, who has had some of the worst run support in baseball since resigning with the Phillies in Dec. 2010.

The Phillies have hit just .243 with a .317 on-base percentage since they scored 14 runs Opening Day against the Rangers. They have hit just .203 with runners in scoring position in that stretch. But this has been a team effort. In their last four games, the pitching staff has a 5.91 ERA, which doesn’t include the 10 unearned runs they have allowed. The bullpen has allowed 60 percent (6 of 10) of its inherited runners to score this season, which is the second-worst mark in baseball.

I’ve heard countless baseball people say pennants can’t be won in April, but they can be lost. The Phillies entered the season with a very small margin for error. They don’t want to bury themselves too deep too quickly, but a 3-7 start would have them on the way.

3 Comments

Not sure Brunett qualifies to be included in any sentence that uses formidable. This is just a badly constructed team, with no immediate future, that should play BonJovi’s “living on a prayer” every inning. Until Amaro leaves (and hopefully the partners wake up to making Monty go away), I’ll watch from home and/or listen to the radio, but they won’t see me in the stands. It’s gonna be a long year, and I suspect a long rebuilding process, but I’m used to it starting in the late 50’s.

I officially feel bad for Cliff Lee. In past seasons, at least there was hope. This season, though, it’s apparent to all that this team is just garbage. And I know he gets paid a ton of money, and part of being a professional athlete is performing to the best of your abilities even when your teammates aren’t holding up their end of the bargain… but having worked for a few crappy employers in my day, it’s still a bummer to know that, regardless of how good you are at your job, the people running the organization are still clueless buffoons doing everything in their power to drive the whole thing into the ground. It makes it hard to truly care, you know?

Yaaaawwwwnnnnnn! Just another day in paradise. Someone tell the Phillies org what the definition of insanity is…because I don’t think they get it yet. It’s been a nice run, but looking like another 10 years or so before this franchise decides it want to win again. Until then, I’ll be paying attention to other teams. You know, ones that actually WANT to win. Can’t wait to see where Cliff ends up in July.

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