Week 10 in Review
- Updated: June 10, 2013
Heading into this afternoon’s game at Miller Park, the Phillies sit in second place in the National League East, a half-game ahead of the Washington Nationals and 6.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves. On the surface that does not look all that impressive, but given the injuries that have hit this team recently, and the many inconsistencies they’ve had, they deserve a ton of credit.
Through April and May, this team looked locked into third place with a hot hitting Braves squad seemingly running away with the division with the Nats close behind. Then, Justin Upton cooled off and Bryce Harper got hurt. The Nationals, picked by many to win the division, are two games under .500 and struggling at the plate. Also don’t forget that for all the praise Atlanta got this off-season for their outfield of Upton, Upton & Heyward, those three guys actually rank 24th in combined offensive statistics in Major League Baseball.
What does all that mean? The East is up for grabs, and with improved hitting and a young pitching staff that has filled in admirably so far, the Phillies seem poised to make a run and be buyers at the trade deadline. The question is, how long can they keep it up?
This week has been a great illustration of this team’s potential, and how they’ve also managed to fall short.
They swept the Marlins at home earlier this week, on the heels of Domonic Brown getting named the National League Player of the Month of May. He hit 12 home runs for the month, and made history as the first player ever to hit 10 or more home runs in a month without being walked. He now leads the National League in home runs with 19, passing Justin Upton in the process of this hot streak.
Also paying dividends was John Mayberry, who in his last 10 games is hitting .321 with six runs batted in and has seven runs scored. He single handedly beat the Marlins last Tuesday with a game tying home run in the 10th inning, and a walk off grand slam in the 11th.
Having Mayberry & Brown hitting consistently for this team is invaluable. They have two young guns showing how much they are capable of, from both sides of the plate, and in an outfield dying for youth and power. If they can keep it up even a little bit, they can conceivably carry the team.
After sweeping the Marlins, the Phillies took the first game in Milwaukee on Thursday night for their first four game winning streak of the season, and also pulled to .500 for the first time all season. Just as quickly, they lost two in row to the last place Brewers, a team they should be able to handle, and fell two games back under .500.
This is what has to stop, losing the games they should win especially when given the chance to move above .500 and up in the standings.
What cannot be overlooked this season has been what the pitching staff has been able to do. I sound like a broken IPod, or record if that’s your thing, but with the injuries to Roy Halladay and John Lannan, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone & Tyler Cloyd have more than given this team chances to win games time and time again.
All three pitchers have an ERA between three and four, and they’ve combined to win a total of 11 games this season. Without the contributions from Pettibone & Cloyd, it’s hard to believe this team is as close to .500 as they are. Decisions will have to be made when Lannan comes off the disabled list, and the team also has Carlos Zambrano waiting in the wings in the minor leagues.
Still, when Lannan is activated, Jonathan Pettibone should remain in the rotation. Perhaps Lannan can be used as a long man in the bullpen, because Pettibone has been too consistent to get sent back down. It just wouldn’t make sense.
Not to be forgotten are Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Lee has been this club’s most dominating starter, winning three of his last four starts and has allowed a combined seven runs in those four starts. He has walked just 16 batters this season in 95 1/3 innings pitched. Compare that with 12 walks from Cloyd in just 29 1/3 innings pitched. Lee has also been a great stopper for the Phils, as they are 6-2 in games following a loss & started by Lee.
As rough as Hamels’ record looks, it is a bit deceiving. He has received the least amount of run support of any starter and that can’t be overlooked. That being said, he has walked more than he should and allowed a team high 11 home runs. He’s been dominant at times, but in his last four starts has allowed 29 hits and 12 runs. Great run support can often hide a pitcher’s shortcomings, but Hamels deserves the help.
General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., stated back in May that should the Phillies have a realistic shot at making the playoffs come July 31st, he will be looking to add pieces and not be a seller. If they can hit and pitch the way they have for the most part this week, another bat or two at the trade deadline could help them make a push in September.
The decision to buy would be an easy one, and the preferred one for Amaro instead of the alternative that we discussed last week…starting over.
Stats Courtesy of Phillies.com
Photo Courtesy of Zimbio.com