Results tagged ‘ pitching staff ’

Is This A Playoff Team? Hamels Says Ask Somebody Else

Jimmy RollinsWell, that couldn’t have gone much worse.

A few thoughts on the Phillies following their 3-7 road trip:

  • There is a level of frustration settling into the Phillies’ clubhouse, an amount I haven’t seen in Charlie Manuel‘s nine seasons here. Just read Cliff Lee‘s comments Thursday in Minnesota, or what Cole Hamels told reporters after yesterday’s loss in Colorado. Is this a playoff team? “I’m not going to comment on that one,” Hamels said. “You can ask the other guys that one.” Remember, those comments are being made publicly, which certainly means the apathy/resignation/frustration is worse behind closed doors. That is troubling. I remember in seasons past, somebody like Jayson Werth would say confidently and almost nonchalantly, “Relax, everybody. We’re fine. We’re much better than this. We’ll pick it up when we need to pick it up.” They knew they would. You don’t hear that talk right now.
  • The Phillies are 25th in baseball in runs per game. They are 24th in ERA. In seasons past, the Phillies always had one thing going for it: a great offense or a great pitching staff. You could always say, “Well, if they add a bat (Hunter Pence) or if they add an arm (Lee or Roy Oswalt) at the trade deadline it could push them over the top.” You can’t say that with this team. There are too many holes. Where would you even start?
  • Look at where the Phillies rank in OPS at every position. Catcher: 23rd at .651. First base: 17th at .763. Second base: 20th at .671. Third base: 13th at .727. Shortstop: Ninth at .747. Left field: second at .876. Center field: 27th at .616. Right field: 23rd at .691. Second base would be better if Chase Utley had remained healthy, but other than that the only two positions holding their own against the best in baseball are left field (Domonic Brown) and shortstop (Jimmy Rollins).
  • If you say, well, the Phillies are only 8 1/2 games back in the NL East (I’m not sure why anybody would say that, but still …), remember the NL East is probably the worst division in baseball.
  • Looking for a reason to keep the faith? That’s tough, but I guess if you’re going to hold onto something hold onto this: Manuel’s teams traditionally are much better in the second half (.610 winning percentage after the All-Star break from 2005-12 is second-best in baseball). Of course, if they keep playing like this they could be buried in the standings and some of their top players could be traded by July 31. That traditional second-half surge might not matter.
  • Take a look at the upcoming free agent class at MLB Trade Rumors. I don’t see a lot of guys that could help the Phillies turn around their fortunes quickly.  Is there anybody that gets you excited enough to say, “I’d be OK if the Phillies shelled out a ton of cash for him?” There is Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury and that’s about it as far as high on-base percentage bats the Phillies could use. (Forget about Robinson Cano. I can’t believe the Yankees will let him sign elsewhere.)

Going for the Sweep

All of a sudden the three-hour time change has decided to crush me, so I’m going to throw out a few random thoughts/stats from last night’s 4-2 victory over the Padres in 11 innings and get to bed:

  • The Padres have one of the worst lineups — maybe the worst — I can recall. And they have to face Roy Halladay, who is coming off a poor start, in the series finale tomorrow. Poor lineup. Motivated Halladay. Could be a quick one.
  • Phillies pitchers are 7-3 with a 2.37 ERA in the last 10 games. Opponents have hit just .219 against them. They are 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a .197 opponents average in the last four games.
  • Expect Raul Ibanez to get a rest today. He is hitless in his last 18 at-bats. Not sure why John Mayberry Jr. doesn’t get a few more chances to play — this would be his third start this season — but I’m not the manager.
  • Jose Contreras hasn’t pitched the last two nights, but Charlie Manuel said he’s fine and is expected to be available today.

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A Remarkable 18 Shutouts for Phillies

oswalt 0912 2010.jpgThe Phillies pitched their 18th shutout of the season today in a 3-0 victory over the Mets.

If that seems like a lot, it is.

They are the most shutouts in a season since they had 18 in 1965. It also tied them for the 10th most shutouts in a season in franchise history.

Here’s a look at the rest of the top 10:

1. 1916 – 25 shutouts
2. 1908 – 22
2. 1917 – 22
4. 1906 – 21
4. 1907 – 21
6. 1911 – 20
6. 1913 – 20
6. 1915 – 20
9. 1951 – 19
10. 1965 – 18
10. 2010 – 18

That’s pretty remarkable when you consider the top eight consists of teams that played before 1918. I think they use “base balls” stuffed with feathers back then.

There have been just five teams since 1989 that have had more shutouts in a season than the Phillies: the 1992 Braves (24), the 1998 Braves (23), the 1992 Pirates (20), the 2007 (Padres) and the 2002 Athletics.

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Roy Oswalt is 6-1 with a 1.98 ERA in nine starts since joining the Phillies.

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Chew on This

utley 0902 2010.jpg

A few things to ponder following last night’s 12-11 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field:

  • The Phillies are 28-12 (.700) since a July 21 loss to the Cardinals. That’s the best record in baseball. 
  • The Braves are 23-17 (.575), which is the eighth-best record in baseball. That’s why the Phillies have made up only five games in the National League East standings. If anything, we’ve learned the Braves are not the 2010 version of the ’07 and ’08 Mets. The Phillies will need to keep playing well to catch Atlanta.
  • Chase Utley and Ryan Howard seem to be emerging from their slumps. Utley has hit .538 (7 for 13) with three doubles, one home run, eight RBIs and one stolen base in the last three games. Howard has hit .250 (3 for 12) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, two walks and three strikeouts in the last three games.
  • The Phillies went 6-1 (.857) on their seven-game road trip through San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado. According to the Phillies’ media guide it ties for the fourth-best road trip in franchise history. They had a 7-0 trip against the Pirates and Mets in 1968, a 6-0 trip against the Boston Braves and Giants in 1915 and a 7-1 trip against the Expos, Cardinals and Cubs in 1983.
  • The Phillies have a 3.01 ERA since July 21, which is tied with the Astros for the best ERA in baseball.
  • The offense has averaged 4.86 runs per game, which ranks 10th in baseball and sixth in the National League.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

On the Road Again

Thumbnail image for GBUPhillies_Final.jpgTonight at Citi Field the Phillies begin a nine-game road trip through New York, Florida and Atlanta.

People like to ask me, “How do you like Citi Field?”

My answer: “I like it. It’s better than Shea.”

And it is. Shea was worse than the Vet. Citi Field is nice. It’s a pitcher’s park, which is cool. They’ve got Mama’s of Corona sandwiches on the main concourse in center field, which are tremendous. It doesn’t smell moldy in the visitor’s clubhouse. Other than driving past the chop shops across the street, it’s a nice addition to the National League East.

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Curious to see how the Phillies handle R.A. Dickey after Tim Wakefield owned them Sunday.

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In case you missed it, I wrote yesterday about the Phillies looking for pitching help, although they aren’t nearly as desperate for help this year as last.

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Congratulations to the Flyers. I’m not a Flyers fan, but if I suddenly decided to buy my first Flyers t-shirt would this offend Flyers fans, or would you welcome me on the bandwagon with open arms? I sense some sensitivity from some Flyers fans. (If that last sentence offended you, you’re too sensitive.)

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I posted a picture of my book today because, well, um, Father’s Day is just around the corner. And the last I checked fathers love to read.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

The Phillies Can Pitch, Too

pedro 0903.jpgThe Phillies lead the National League, averaging 5.1 runs per game, despite the fact they have scored just 13 runs and hit just .227 in their past seven games.

Other noteworthy NL teams in runs per game:

2) Rockies (5.00)
4) Dodgers (4.77)
5) Marlins (4.73)
6) Braves (4.55)
8) Cardinals (4.49)
15) Giants (3.99)

The Phillies generally are known as an offensive team — again, despite the fact they have averaged just 4.0 runs per game since July 26. And perhaps because of that there has been some apprehension about who they might face in the best-of-five National League Division Series. We heard it quite a bit this week with the Giants in town: Oh, the Giants would be brutal with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

And they would be.

But the Phillies proved this week they can pitch, too. They rank sixth in the league with a 4.10 ERA, and lead the league with a 3.12 ERA since the All-Star break.

Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who threw a shutout Tuesday, in Games 1 and 2? They could neutralize the Giants or any other team, even if the Phillies bats aren’t hitting.

“It goes without saying that we can beat people a lot of different ways,” Jayson Werth said. “Our starting pitching has definitely been upgraded. We’ve got some guys coming back, too, to bolster up the pen. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be tough down the stretch. And hopefully when it gets down to the playoffs we’ll be tough again this year.”

“I think last year it showed in the playoffs that pitching and defense can win you a lot of games,” Chase Utley said. “You’re not going to score every single night. You’re bound to run into a tough pitcher occasionally. But if you have good pitchers on your side and play good defense, it’s going to be a good game.”

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Is it time for Raul Ibanez to sit a couple games, much like Jimmy Rollins sat in June? Ibanez has hit .133 (8-for-60) with no homers, one RBI and 19 strikeouts since Aug. 13 and .174 (19-for-109) with one homer, five RBIs and 34 strikeouts since July 27.

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The magic number is 22.

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Hamels and Distractions

dubee.jpgA few reporters chatted with Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee before tonight’s game about Cole Hamels, who is 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA and is 0-3 with a 6.18 ERA in his last five starts.

Here is what he said:

Question: Hamels jumped from a combined 190 innings in 2007 to a combined 262 2/3 innings in 2008. Could that jump be a reason why he has struggled?
Answer: It could be a lot of factors. His command hasn’t been very good. I don’t know if it’s innings last year. If it’s physical or mental, if he hasn’t focused as keenly as he did. Who knows? It could be a bunch of things, but he definitely hasn’t been as sharp. … It could be a number of things going on.

Q: What’s your level of concern, if there is any?
A: No more than any other pitcher we have. The same level of concern.

Q: You mentioned focus. Is that something that is going on with him?
A: I think it’s happened with our whole team. Oh, yeah. Some of the mistakes we’ve made? Yeah. We’ve seemed distracted at times. But again, the second half of last year we played very, very well. We didn’t make mental mistakes. We didn’t make sloppy mistakes pitching. We’ve made a lot of those. Whether it’s we’re physically tired or mentally not there, I don’t know which one it is, but we haven’t been as sharp as we need to be.

Q: How much have you talked about distractions?
A: We’ve talked about it some, yeah. You have make them aware of it. You have to make them aware of what you see. The way they’re acting.

Charlie Manuel said he is not worried about Hamels. “I see the same guy,” he said. But he also said the jump in innings from 2007 to 2008 could be a factor in his struggles.

“This guy was used to throwing 180 innings,” he said. “When he threw 262, that’s a jump. Also, the season’s longer, and his winter was shorter. The rest, during the winter, that comes into play. All that can affect you. All that’s mental. It’s a process of learning how to get through, if that makes sense. He had a long season to get to the end, and then, he had a short winter. That might have something to do with it.”

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