Since the baseball season is long (a marathon, not a sprint they always say). Let's keep track of the Phillies 2009 season in digestible bites. A weekly wrap-up doesn't give justice to the ups and downs that a team goes through because it's so uneven.Therefore, I've decided to summarize the season in 9 game swaths, the equivalent of 3 series, barring rainouts and schedule unevenness. Plus, 9*18=162...I like even numbers.
Slice of a Season: 2009, Slice 3
Slice Record: 5-4
Cumulative Record: 15-12
Standing at Slice's End: 0.5 games ahead the surging Metropolitans
Opponents that hurt the Phillies: Mets, weather
Opponents that helped the Phillies: Cardinals, Nationals (every loss hurts though)
Wins to Remember: Beating the Braves 10-6 on May 8 (Hamels goes more than 5 innings!). Beating the Cardinals 6-1 on May 4 (Quality start from Blanton!)
Loss to spill milk over: Losing 1-0 against the Mets on May 6. (the defense lost the game
It helps when they say your job is on the line: Chan Ho Park with 6 consecutive scoreless innings
Bats do help in general: When facing Scott Olsen
If only the Phillies traded 4 non-star prospects for him, then we wouldn't have to dread games against him: Johan Santana
Nemesis Alert: Mike Pelfrey
Return from the houses in the boondocks: Cole Hamels, pitching a total start
Sometimes it's better to act than to think: Jayson Werth (though the rest of the slice was brilliant)
Hitting Heroes: Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth
Need Adjustments: Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz, the catchers, the bench
Fire Starters on the Mound: Brad Lidge, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton
Holding the Fort Down: Clay Condrey, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, J.A. Happ
Brett Myers is an apt picture for this slice, because like their mercurial, temperamental pitcher, they don't yet have a recipe for sustained success this season. Starting pitching with an ERA above 7, a bullpen with an aching, struggling closer, and a lineup lacking production from both the top and bottom is a mix of mediocrity.
Jimmy Rollins will not hit .400 this month as he claimed once; I'm hoping his OPS surpasses that mark. Something seems wrong with his swing, especially from the right side; his approach at the plate when he leads off an inning is also lacking. Victorino has not been much better, though he at least shows flashes of good contact. The middle of the lineup is holding the fort down. Kudos to Werth for raising his OPS above .950. Power and patience with contact is a strong combination for success. The bench has not done anything positive in awhile.
There is definitely something physically wrong with Lidge; it seems like the same knee that plagued him in 2006-2007, and that is worrisome. Without drive there is no bite on the slider. Madson, Happ, Condrey, and Durbin are thriving, though they are not helped by having to pitch 3-4 innings per night. Happ should probably replace Park in the rotation, one great start from Park not withstanding. Control and HRs allowed, as always, are the problems of struggling pitching staff. Hamels at least has shown some signs of turning it around. The league, unfortunately, is hitting Moyer. A 5.41 ERA is still not acceptable at this point of the season.
They also need to take advantage of their homepark. The fans love them. Crashburn Alley loves them. Play loose, but don't play without mental focus. Standings are still fluid, so let's ride that river raft.