But now we gotta talk about the pitching. Dudes, seriously? I've been told by an endless array of other writers how y'all had career years last year, and how this pitching staff was no great shakes, and how - beyond Cole Hamels - y'all ain't got much going on.
And you're proving the point! Doesn't that kind of smack talk tick you off? It ticks me off and I'm not even the focus of the criticism!
I think it's awesome that you can get down by four runs, come back, give up the damn lead again, and then score the win on a grand slam. It's a great way to end a game, and Raul Ibanez is the shiznat....but, come on guys. I mean, 13-11? That's great stuff for highlights, but not so great for fans that would prefer 13-2 laughers. Does anyone remember laughers??? (does anyone remember Led Zeppelin?)
All right, check it:
- Brett Myers leads the starters with a 4.91 ERA going into tonight's game. And he's given up eight homers. This was a problem last year too - and that demotion did him a world of good. Just sayin'...Tell you what - go a game without giving up a homer and I'll ease off the gas a bit.
- Jamie Moyer (and I will refrain from making a joke about his age because he is currently the best Phillies pitcher) is next with a 5.09 ERA. But he gets a pass because he is also 3-1. Keep up the good work, buddy.
- Cole Hamels is tied with Brad Lidge with a 7.27 ERA. Despite his chiropractor, Hamels has been oft injured and we're still waiting to see the pitcher who was lights out in the playoffs and World Series last year. Now Lidge is nursing an injury. The fool national broadcasters always prattle on about "If they can avoid injury" - I guess there is something to this.
Oh yeah, I'll give Hamels and Lidge a pass because...well, because they were lights out in the playoffs and World Series last year! But - I'd still like to see some quality outings, boys. Okay?
- Joe Blanton? Hmmm...I'll give him some space. He's been pretty....awful thus far, but he did have some great moments last year. Time to get going, dude. Sooner the better.
- Chan Ho Park. Why? All I have to say. I got nothin' else. I'm ready to see what JA Happ can do in the starting rotation. Or Pedro Martinez. Anyone. Bueller? Bueller? Frye?
But it's not all doom and gloom. Ryan Howard has a .273 batting average, which is about 100 points higher than last year. Chase Utley and the aforementioned Ibanez have been...spectacular. Nothing new there. Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino have been steady as well. Offensively, the Phillies are starting to roll.
And then there's the Mets, who were the darlings of the prognosticators when the season began. So...I ask the question again: Beyond Johan Santana and Fransisco Rodriguez, who do they have for pitching? Amazingly, they may have a more underwhelming pitching staff than the Phillies do.
All that hand wringing over whether or not the Phils could keep up with the Mets, and it was the Marlins that were the problem. Well, after running into the buzzsaw that is the Pittsburgh Pirates (a three-game sweep), the Fish were swept by the Phils, and suddenly, the NL East was within 1 1/2 games.
And the Mets (mired in 4th place) are hardly a factor. If this keeps up, they will at least spare their fans the ignominy of choking away the NL East in the last week of the season. Oh, and...was that the Met bullpen that blew that save tonight? Maybe some more tinkering is necessary.
Of course, I mock at the Phillies peril, as the two teams open a three-game set this weekend, presumably to duke it out for bragging rights in the NL East. And it may not matter, as the Marlins square off against the Cubs this weekend, so I doubt that the standings will change much for any of these three teams.
And Atlanta? At 10-11, they hold third place in the NL East, and certainly warrant some conversation. They're just as inconsistent as the Phils, Mets and Marlins. At this point, any of the three could win the division. The Braves, in my mind, have an edge this weekend, as they take on the struggling Astros.
Yes, so far, it's been a crazy, fun season. I hope that May is a little more stable for the Phillies, but I'm sure we'll see more of the same. And that's fine - nothing wrong with a little excitement in baseball. But it would be nice if they won some games before the 8th and 9th innings.
And with an 11-9 record, and no more games in April, the Phillies have guaranteed their second consecutive winning April. Well done, boys - here's to ya. Now for the tough love part - get yer heads outta yer butts and get that pitching straightened out.
A low-scoring sweep of the Mets would go a long way to repairing my fractured confidence in the pitching staff.
Originally Posted on southjersey-stillers-phillies.blogspot.com on April 29th.