Here’s your weekly wrap, written by Phillies Nation contributor Jason Bintliff.
Coach John McKay of the 0-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers once said, “We can’t win at home, we can’t win on the road and quite frankly, we’re running out of places to play.” If you have been following our beloved Fightins’ the past couple of weeks, you can certainly sympathize with coach McKay’s sentiment.
Despite a nice display of power on Saturday against the Bluebirds in Canada, misery has been the word of the week. Absolute misery.
Believe it or not, despite the Phillies struggles, this past week’s blame cannot be blamed all on starting pitching. With the exception of Antonio Bastardo’s poor outing Thursday and Cole Hamels’ undoing Friday, The starters have had a decent week. If you go back to last Sunday against the Orioles, Hamels was dominant, fanning ten Baltimore batters en route to a 2-1 loss. Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer also gave the team strong outings, going seven and six innings respectively, allowing two earned runs apiece. However, the pitcher-of-the-week award goes to no other than Mr. J.A. Happ. His numbers were fantastic. In 15 innings, Happ struck out nine and walked four. Not only did Happ gather a win in the process, he also became the second Phillies starter this season to pitch a complete game shutout.
The bullpen, on the other hand, has been completely abysmal. Ryan Madson, after saving his first two games as a closer, has looked uncomfortable at best in his new role. He blew one save this week and all of a sudden, Brad Lidge has looked like the savior we all thought him to be from the start. Sure, Lidge gave up two runs during Friday’s game, but Madson is clearly not built for the closer role and we have to just hope that Lidge gets his A-game back.
Just as tragic has been the middle relief. JC Romero has not found his groove since returning from his suspension, and this past week showed no signs of settling in. Mix in an off-the-field incident and Romero is having a tough stretch. Chan Ho Park looks to be a serviceable long man, but is still prone to giving up a big inning; plus, after injuring his knee Friday, who knows how he will respond.
The bottom line is the bullpen is banged up and overworked, which can certainly be attributed to the extended season last year and the overuse caused by a poor start for the Phillies starting five. If the starters don’t go further into games and the Phillies don’t find help, the bullpen, which was a strength last season, will continue to be their biggest weakness this season.
The lineup is a different story altogether. Saturday was a fun game to watch. Take from it what you will. Perhaps it’s a signal that the slump is turning to prosperity. However, Jimmy Rollins is still a concern and Raul Ibanez’s absence continues to soften the Phillies’ offensive output. July 3 cannot come fast enough. The Phillies have struggled since Ibanez’s trip to the disabled list and appear anemic. Carlos Ruiz and Pedro Feliz have both cooled off and John Mayberry Jr. has been inconsistent, all playing a role in the recent downturn. Jayson Werth had a nice week, batting .386 with five ribbies and five runs scored. He ceremoniously capped his week with two bombs Saturday. Chase Utley has looked steady, and Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard have both hit around .250.
It’s simple. The Phillies bats have not been hot and the pitching was mediocre at best. When those two elements come together, a perfect storm of bad baseball is created, and we as fans are left getting soaked in the downpour of misery.