A corresponding roster move will come tomorrow.
Lannan tweaked his knee Friday in Miami, but aggravated it early in last night’s start against Cincinnati. He said last night he has had the issue in the past, but never missed a start because of it. So who replaces him? Well, I might have said left-hander Adam Morgan, but he threw 100 pitches in five innings today. Considering Lannan’s spot in the rotation comes up Monday, there seems to be little chance it’s Morgan. Cesar Jimenez started last night, but that’s because the IronPigs played a doubleheader Sunday and pitched both Ethan Martin (4.82 ERA) and B.J. Rosenberg (6.00 ERA). Jonathan Pettibone (9.64 ERA) has struggled. So has Tyler Cloyd (7.07 ERA).
Stay tuned …
I’m not even talking about a lot of offense. I’m talking about a little bit of offense. You know, like a four or five-run game every once in a while. But the Phillies hit their high-water mark on their just completed six-game road trip through Miami and Cincinnati on Friday, when they scored three runs against the Marlins. And they needed 10 innings to do that.
Let’s take a look at some of the wretched numbers:
- The Phillies did not score a single run before the sixth inning in any game during the road trip.
- They hit just .205 and scored a mere 10 runs overall.
- They failed to walk once in the entire series against the Reds. It is the first time since Aug. 13-15, 1995, they had no walks over a three-game span. It is just the second time it has happened to them in the past 50 years. It is the first time it has happened in baseball since Aug. 2011, when the White Sox failed to walk in four consecutive games. Walks matter. On-base percentage matters. You can’t score if you don’t get anybody on base. Ever.
- The Phillies are averaging 3.47 runs per game this season, which ranks 12th in the National League. They are 12th with a .667 OPS. They have walked just 34 times, which is tied for the second-lowest mark in the league. They have struck out 120 times, which is third. Remember how people said, “The Braves are going to hit home runs, but they are going to strike out too much?” Well, the Braves have struck out a whopping 121 times, just one more than the Phillies. But they also have walked 10 more times, and have scored 16 more runs. Of course, the biggest difference is the Braves lead the National League with a 1.77 ERA, while the Phillies are 15th with a 4.90 ERA. But pitching wasn’t the problem during this trip, other than John Lannan‘s performance last night. It was the toothless offense.
I got a ton of tweets last night during the game basically saying everybody must go. Ruben Amaro Jr. to Charlie Manuel to the lineup. Basically the entire team. Let me say right now: if you really believe this on April 18 don’t hold your breath. If you can find another team in baseball that made wholesale changes 15 games into a 162-game season, please let me know. The Phillies are going to see what happens when Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young join the team. They are going to give themselves time. It might be fruitless. It might be a gigantic waste of time, but this is what they are going to do. So if you are breathing fire today you should relax. It will get you nowhere.
I’ve also gotten more than a few tweets and e-mails about the Phillies changing their lineup. The folks that absolutely demanded Manuel hit Ben Revere leadoff suddenly have changed their tune as he is hitless in his last 14 at-bats to drop his batting average and slugging percentage to .194. But the alternative is Jimmy Rollins, who went 1-for-18 on the trip.
The only real option to improve the lineup? Keep playing and hope things get better. Yes, that’s it. It’s not much of a plan, but it’s the only plan they’ve got. Ryne Sandberg can’t make these guys hit. Screaming at them won’t make them hit. Punishing them won’t make them hit. (Some fans seem to think treating professional baseball players like they’re freshmen on a JV team is the way to go. Not sure the Mike Rice method would be effective in the Phillies’ clubhouse.) Either they’re going to hit or they’re not. But massive changes 15 games into the season? Not going to happen. But Amaro won’t wait forever, either. He showed last July 31 he will make changes if needed. But it’s April 18. We’re a long way from there.
Your best option? If you’re of legal age, crack open a beer or have a scotch. It’ll help calm the nerves.
He does not believe it is serious.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Brown, who dove for a ball in the first inning in an 11-2 loss to the Reds. “We’re going to get an MRI and see exactly what’s going on. I don’t think it’s anything major at all.”
But Brown added, “I felt some pain immediately. Once I took a couple of swings, I really felt it.”
He left the game in the fourth inning.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz is still serving his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, and is eligible to rejoin the team April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field. But the Phillies could use him much earlier than that. Phillies catchers entered tonight’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park with a .486 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranked 29th in baseball. Only Reds catchers (.326 OPS) have been worse.
Phillies catchers had an .861 OPS last season, which was the best in baseball. Ruiz has a career .781 OPS with a career-high .935 OPS last season.
Humberto Quintero is scheduled to catch Kyle Kendrick tonight. He entered the night hitting .222 (2-for-9) with one double. Erik Kratz entered the night hitting .171 (7-for-41) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs.
Asked if he might use these final 12 days to evaluate his catchers, Charlie Manuel said, “They can count. When people start coming back we’re going to have to make some changes on our roster.”
But Manuel added anytime any of his hitters feel like stringing together some hits he will take it.
The Phillies lost to the Reds, 4-2, in what truly was a great game. Great pitching. Great defense. Some clutching hitting (although far too little for the Phillies). But a well-played game from both sides. The Phillies’ bats have been quiet since scoring seven runs Wednesday against the Mets. They have scored just eight runs in four games since. They could get away with that against an awful team like the Marlins, but the Reds are quite a bit better offensively.
Two runs won’t cut it in Cincinnati.
People have asked about the eighth inning and why the Phillies started Jeremy Horst in a tie game, rather than somebody else. The answer is pretty simple: Horst had warmed up and was about to go into the game trailing 2-0 when Chase Utley unexpectedly hit a two-out, two-run home run to right field to tie the game. If you’re asking, “Why weren’t they warming up Mike Adams or Antonio Bastardo just in case they tied the game?” the answer is even easier: you can’t warm up everybody all the time during a six-month, 162-game season in the event somebody might hit a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit home run to tie the game. You’ll blow out the arms of pitchers like Adams and Bastardo, and then you’re really screwed.
But Manuel also acknowledged they are concerned about using Adams too much. Remember he had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery after last season and had pitched in four of the previous five games. Bastardo had pitched in three of the previous four. Of course, if you’re now asking, “Well, they had Adams finish the eighth anyway, so what’s the difference?” They used Adams at that point because they were trying to extend the game and liked his chances of getting a groundball out. He got one. It just wasn’t hit at anybody. If the Phillies were tied or leading before Utley’s at-bat, then I bet Bastardo or Adams pitch. But they weren’t.
On a side note: Horst suffered some crappy luck in the eighth. He allowed a swinging bunt single and a bloop double to right-center field. It’s not like the Reds smoked the ball against them. But the bigger picture is the Phillies’ offense needs to get on track. They’re not doing much of anything right now. I know the pitcher has a big part in it, but the pitcher can’t have a big part in it every night.
At least two bombs exploded at the end of the Boston Marathon with multiple deaths and injuries reported.
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon played seven seasons with the Red Sox and lived above the popular steakhouse Abe and Louie’s, where one of the explosions detonated. He carried a blank look on his face as he shared his thoughts before a game against the Reds.
“It’s sad, man,” he said. “Patriot’s Day is a big thing in Boston. Sox play at 11 o’clock. It’s all ruined. Families are ruined, lives are ruined. For what? It’s just sad.
“I’m looking at it right now and I’m like, damn, I used to live right there.”
Papelbon said he has tried to contact people in Boston, but has had no luck.
“It’s kind of surreal,” he said. “I don’t know man, it’s crazy. It’s hard to even think about. … Hopefully the city can rally and make things better, but it’s going to be tough.”
Obviously, it was an eagerly anticipated win considering his struggles since last season.
Here are some highlights of Halladay’s postgame interview in the clubhouse:
QUESTION: After your struggles last season, this spring and the first two starts this season, how good did it feel to have teammates give you a bottle of champagne to celebrate your 200th win?
HALLADAY: I think more than anything, I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself. To get in there and really, my plan the whole week was to worry about the game and not worry about what was going on internally. I felt like that made a big difference. We got a couple of base hits. And in the past, in the last few starts, I felt like those guys would get on and instead of internally thinking, ok this is my plan, this is what I’m going to do, it’s like, well, you start thinking about the game and things you can’t control. To me that was a big difference and that was a big focus for me this week, to really try to focus on things that I could control. Thing are going to happen, hits are going to happen and guys are going to get on base, but most importantly, I have to stay with my plan, I can’t get caught up in things going on around me, whats going on on the bases, what the score is, things like that, I have to be able to be more narrow with my mindset about making pitches period, that’s my job. I think in the past I’ve tried to really control too much and do too much and worry about too much. I felt like today that plan was simpler: execute pitches one at a time and not worry about whats going on. And that made it good.
“I think it’s going to be a fun summer,” he said afterward.
He certainly can help the cause. Utley, who started each of the previous two seasons on the disabled list because of knee problems, is healthy and hitting .316 (12-for-38) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 10 RBIs in 10 games. He has reached base safely in every game this season, and last night was his second game-winning RBI of the year. He ranks first in the NL in triples. He is tied for third in RBIs, tied for eighth in extra-base hits (six) and tied for ninth in total bases (24).
He is looking like the Utley from 2005-09, when he was the best second baseman in the game. It is just 10 games, but it is encouraging.
- You should be worried about Roy Halladay. Despite protests from Halladay and everybody else in the Phillies clubhouse and front office, Halladay has not looked good since 2011. So this isn’t a four or five start slump. This is a slump that has extended beyond one full calendar year. It started in Spring Training 2012 and has lasted through his first two starts in 2013. Besides a drop in velocity, Halladay’s ERA from 2010-11 to 2012-13 has jumped from 2.40 to 4.95, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio has plummeted from 6.75 to 3.43. He is going the wrong direction in every relevant statistic. Maybe he can figure out things and be productive, but right now there is no evidence to suggest he is close. He faces the wretched Marlins on Sunday. They’ve had Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs hitting cleanup. It is a good opportunity to have some success on the mound. Maybe it gets him going.
- Don’t be worried about Cole Hamels. If we’re at Defcon 2 with Halladay, we’re at Defcon 5 with Hamels. There is nothing to see here. Please, disperse.
- It’s more the rotation than the bullpen. Phillies starters have a 6.24 ERA, which ranks 28th in baseball. That is the biggest issue right now, not middle relievers like Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes. Certainly they need to do a better job. They have allowed 12-of-15 inherited runners to score. That 80 percent mark is the worst in baseball. (Technically, the Reds have allowed 100 percent of their inherited runners to score, but they’re only 1-for-1.) But the middle relievers have been pitching too much and have put into too many tough situations. That blame falls on the starters. They are the ones that need to do better. They are supposed to pitch deep into games and they have not done that nearly enough.
- The Phillies rank seventh in the National League, averaging 4.67 runs per game. They have looked better recently, and they show some potential. Chase Utley, Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins are swinging well right now. Domonic Brown has been OK. I believe Ryan Howard will be better than he has been. The only drag right now is Ben Revere. He has struck out seven times in 38 at-bats. That’s 5.86 plate appearances per strikeout. He struck out 54 times last season, or once every 10.24 plate appearances. John Mayberry Jr. has been productive, but even if he continues to swing well the Phillies are going with Delmon Young in right field when he is ready. Add Young and Carlos Ruiz to the lineup before the end of the month and this lineup has a chance to score some runs.
- Utley looks like the guy that earned the “Best Second Baseman in Baseball” tag from 2005-09.
- Cliff Lee can be streaky. The Phillies should be thankful he started on a good streak, otherwise they’d be in deep doo-doo.
The Phillies made that clear today at Citizens Bank Park, where Ruben Amaro Jr. said Halladay gets as long as he needs to correct himself, and Charlie Manuel said he is completely committed to his former ace.
Manuel offered an example of just how long his leash can be.
“You guys used to get on me about Brad Lidge,” he said, referring to Lidge’s 2009 season when he went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and 11 blown saves. “I used to look down there, and to me Brad Lidge was probably the best I had. If I was going to lose the game it was going to be Brad Lidge. I was committed to Brad Lidge. If I commit to you then I commit to you. And whatever happens is going to happen. That’s kind of how I look at it.”
Halladay has a ghastly 14.73 ERA through two starts, which follows struggles in Spring Training and struggles in 2012. He has allowed 12 hits, 12 runs, six walks, three home runs, one hit batter, two wild pitches and struck out 12 in just 7 1/3 innings this season.
Amaro and Manuel said they never considered holding back Halladay, having him pitch in extended Spring Training games before he was better prepared to pitch in the Phillies rotation. To have him pitch extended Spring Training games, the Phillies would have needed to place him on the disabled list, but Amaro said Halladay is not injured.
In fact, he said Halladay has not been on the team’s daily injury report once this year.
“Roy felt he was physically ready to go,” Amaro said. “There wasn’t anything real alarming.”
“Roy has earned the right to tell us how he feels, and how he wants to go about certain things when it comes to his routine and his pitching and things like that,” Manuel added. “We never once thought about shutting him down or nothing. I can tell you that. You know something else? Shutting him down ain’t the right way, either. I don’t see no way in the world, if he’s healthy and everything like that, we shut him down.”