Adding to the mountain of proof that the Phillies’ players and brass are frequent visitors to ReclinerGM, the mere mention of missing the playoffs in last series’ post inspired them to get going to sweep the Indians. That or Jimmy Rollins’ return and the fact that the Indians kind of suck.
The Good News
- Jimmy’s back! And in style (of course).
- Ryan Howard has had an excellent June, hitting .325 with a 1.018 OPS. Still waiting for the power binge, but that will likely come.
- Jayson Werth, one of the worst slumpers, appears to be coming out of it as well, hitting .394 in his last 12 games.
- Placido Polanco is very quietly hitting .320, 4th best in the NL.
- Ibanez is hitting .302 in his last 16 games, though I still don’t quite know what to expect the rest of the way. He might break out, might stay average the rest of the year.
- Cole Hamels has a 2.91 ERA in his last 9 starts and has not allowed more than 3 ER in any of them. He has quietly averaged almost 7 innings per start (if you exclude his rain-shortened 0.2 IP outing) and continues to show a lot more life on his fastball. He still has room to improve, as his BB/9 rate is still high for him at 3.0 and his WHIP is actually higher than last year, but he seems to be doing a better job of getting out of trouble and also doesn’t have the bad luck he experienced last year.
- Mike Zagurski looks like a very good relief prospect (as he did in 2007 prior to surgery). Any time a lefty can hit 94mph on the gun, it’s a good thing. As with most young pitchers, it’s all about location for him.
- I’m enjoying that fact that Jamie Moyer has been getting so much national press recently. He deserves it. Take out his Boston start and he has a 3.56 ERA in 13 starts. Not a hall-of-famer, but they should put some sort of memento in there from his final start (whenever that takes place).
- Joe Blanton’s velocity is climbing and location is improving. He would really stabilize the rotation if he gets back to normal.
The Bad News
- 2 is a coincidence, 3 is a trend, right? Well – this is the 3rd straight season that Chase Utley has been roaring towards his signature/MVP like season in the early going, only to crash and burn. On May 23rd, he had a 1.016 OPS, it’s dropped all the way to .861 during this slump. In 2009, his OPS topped out at 1.025 on June 16th, but he finished the season at .905. In 2008, he had a 1.092 OPS on June 3rd, and dropped all the way to .913 once the season was over. Is he wearing himself out? Is playing too hard? Is Bobby Abreu laughing hysterically somewhere as he continues to have productive seasons? What’s frustrating to the fans is that we won’t get an answer.
- A really underrated cause of our recent slump has been the absence of Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz was insanely efficient in the early going, with a .481 OBP on May 10th. Since then, he’s missed 14 games, and has hit just .183 when he’s played. We are 18-20 since May 10th, and lack of line-up depth (Ruiz, Rollins, Polanco, etc…) has played a big part.
- Time for Shane to get going. He’s currently hitting .246. His lowest batting average for the Phils is .281. It could be that he’s trying to hit too many HR’s (he has 11 already), a problem that Rollins’ has had from time to time.
1st round pick Jesse Biddle is scheduled to make his professional debut tonight. I’m sure he’s not nervous at all. Trevor May is showing some signs of reigning in his serious control problems. He’s given up just 2 runs in his last 3 starts (1.10 ERA). He still had 12 walks in those 3 starts (and only 6 hits), but that’s still an improvement over the 18 walks he had in his 3 prior starts (10.09 ERA). Look for my updated top-20 prospects list around the all-star break. Also, if you haven’t heard, Domonic Brown is one step closer to the majors, as he is being promoted to AAA.
Series Preview: Blue Jays at Phillies at Blue Jays (or something like that)
Friday (7:05): Halladay vs. RHP Jesse Litsch (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
Saturday (405): Hamels vs. RHP Shawn Marcum (6-3, 3.24 ERA)
Sunday (1:35): Moyer vs. LHP Brett Cecil (7-4, 4.06 ERA)
3 Questions for the Series
- Can the Phillies starters keep the Blue Jays (#1 in MLB in HR) in the yard?
- Will the strange format (1st games in CBP ever with a DH) have any affect?
- Will I be able to buy Poutine at the park tonight?
The Blue Jays are an interesting team. They are 29th in the majors in BA, but 1st in HR. Talk about an all or nothing squad. It makes me a little nervous to see a team like that come in to our park when it’s hot out and face Hamels and Moyer, who rank 5th and 7th in the NL in HR’s allowed. We might see some high scoring games. On the flip side, the Jays will be a little discombobulated after a night game last night and an unplanned trip down to Philadelphia and haven’t been playing as well after a hot start (14-17 in their last 31). Look for the Phillies to take 2 of 3 in a high-scoring series.