Ending on a High Note

Let’s be honest, after yet another walkoff win against Jonathan Papelbon, does anyone really care about getting outscored 17-2 the previous 2 days? Lots of folks watched the first part of the week with both hope and skepticism based on the Phils opponent, the Padres. Once the N.L. East leaders came to town, it was more of the latter than the former.

W    L      PCT    GB    STRK     L10
Washington Nationals  9     2      .818      –      L1          8-2                                                                                           Philadelphia Phillies     6     7      .462       4      W1         6-4
New York Mets              5     6       .455       4      W1         5-5
Miami Marlins               3     7       .300   5.5      L4          3-7
Atlanta Braves               3     9       .250    6.5     W3         3-7

Offense

Let’s just say, there hasn’t been much. Through 10 games, the Phightins are averaging just 3.4 runs per game with a team average of just .207. Among everyday players, Maikel Franco is leading the team with just a .267 average. If there has been a “bright side”, Ryan Howard has shown shades of his power stroke with 4 HR’s although those are 4 of his just 7 hits thus far on the season for a .189 clip. Odubel Herrera is hitting just .244 but has shown immense patience at the plate and drawn 12 walks. At a pace of 1.2 walks per game (5.2 pitches per plate appearance), if he can get his average up to last years standards, that will be a big weapon at the top of the lineup. When this team goes up against the higher quality teams in the league, they are going to get trounced if hte offense doesn’t start producing something. The pitching will not continue at this pace and eventually, Friday and Saturday’s scores are going to look more like the norm than the exception.

Pitching

Daniel Stumph stats: 3 games, 2 outs recorded, 40.50 ERA and a 50 game suspension. So, let’s take him out of the mix. The starting rotation had a couple rough nights against the Nats but excluding those 2 nights, they have been among the tops in the majors. With Vince Velasquez and his back-to-back shutouts with 25 K’s leading the way, the rotation has been mostly spectacular. Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola had a couple of rough outings against the Nats but Charlie Morton got the team back on track on Sunday. Still, with all the pluses we’ve seen from the bullpen, they can’t keep it up as a whole. Without some help from the offense, things are going to go backwards pretty quickly.

Around the N.L. East

Nationals– Offense, defense, pitching…they have it all. For the last few years, they have been the “team to beat” but haven’t lived up to the hype. Is this the year? It’s early but they are clearly the cream at the top of the East. After a 4 game sweep of the Braves and 2 beat downs on our Phils, the Nats had a 7 game win streak before the Phils walked off with that streak. With 4 against the Marlins and 3 against the Twins, the 4 game division lead may get much bigger after just 3 weeks.

Mets– A 3-3 week against Miami and Cleveland helped drop the Mets into 3rd place. Inconsistency has been the only consistent thing thus far for the team. With 3 each against the Phils and Braves this week, it’ll be interesting to see if that 3rd place spot can hold up or if they can find their way back up.

Marlins– The week started well with 2 wins against the Mets but that was followed by 4 straight losses including handing Atlanta their first 3 wins of the season. 3 of those 4 losses came courtesy of their bullpen. Their offense and starters are keeping them in games but if they can’t hold a lead after 6 innings, they will be looking up in the standings for the majority of the season. Heading into a 4 game home stand against the Nationals followed by a west coast swing that starts in San Fran (without a day off) things aren’t likely to look much better this time next week.

Braves– This could be the scariest team in baseball if they could face the Marlins bullpen 162 times. After being swept out in 4 by the Nats which extended their season opening 9 game losing streak, they finally found a way into the win column against the Marlins. Not much has gone right for the Braves to start the season. For the most part, when thy hit, the don’t pitch and when they pitch, they don’t hit. Heading into 3 game sets with the Dodgers and Mets, it will be intersting to see if they can improve their record or their -25 run differential.

The Phils have 3 more at home against the Mets who they already took 2 of 3 from, including Vince Velasquez’ next start before they head out on the road starting in Milwaukee. Neither team has been any more exciting than the Phils so there is every possibility that the Phils could still find themselves hanging around the top of the division when next week rolls around. If the offense can chip in to help out the pitching, this team might not be that hard to watch this summer.

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