Slice of a Season: 2009, Slice 4
Slice Record: 5-4
Cumulative Record: 20-16
Standing at Slice's End: 0.5 games behind the surged Metropolitans
Opponents that hurt the Phillies: Dodgers, Braves
Opponents that helped the Phillies: Nationals (mostly their pitching staff and fielders)
Wins to Remember: Sweeping the doubleheader against the Nationals on May 16. Beating the Dodgers 5-3 on May 12 with Werth's gutsy baserunning.
Loss to spill milk over: Losing 4-2 to the Braves on May 10 both outplayed and outmanaged in that game.
Lord, I was born a walking man (I swear): Pedro Feliz
I will run for Congress because Washington has been good to me: Raul Ibanez
It's a good thing train tickets are usually round trip: Andrew Carpenter
One appearance, one win in the books, undefeated forever?: Sergio Escalona
Every hitter's best friend: The lost Daniel Cabrera of Washington
Look who's coming soon: J.C. Romero now in the minors on rehab assignment
Bats do help in general: When facing Kenshin Kawakami
Nemesis Alert: Brian McCann and the ex, Randy Wolf
Most Notable Feat: Jayson Werth stealing 2nd, 3rd, and home in the same inning against the Dodgers
Hitting Heroes: Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth
Need Adjustments: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, the bench
Fire Starters on the Mound: Brad Lidge, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Chan Ho Park
Holding the Fort Down: Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre, J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers
This was a trying part of the season. 4 wins in a row at the conclusion of it sure look nice and pretty, but they were really ugly wins. I mean, the games themselves were aesthetically ugly. The good news is that they beat a team that they were supposed to in the Nationals. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to play up to the other competition, losing series to the similarly mediocre Braves and first-place Dodgers.
There are signs for optimism heading into the quarter pole of the season.
- Jayson Werth has turned into a legitimate right handed force, complementing the left handed hitting lineup nicely.
- Raul Ibanez has played like an MVP candidate so far this season, leading the league in total bases and OPS.
- Ryan Howard is striking out less, making less errors, has decent stats, and is primed for a mid-summer power surge.
- Brett Myers and Cole Hamels have both pitched two quality starts in a row.
- Ryan Madson's changeup is whiff-magnetic.
- Clay Condrey, 7th inning man...what a revelation.
Unfortunately, the team still has a balance of negativity to draw upon; this only means more opportunities for improvement.
- Jimmy Rollins has a lower OPS from the leadoff spot than the Phillies' ninth position in the lineup.
- This is grievously poor because the pinch hitters and bench for the Phillies have been especially feeble this year. (Small Sample Size Alert!) Greg Dobbs has a negative OPS+ relative to the league, which I didn't think was mathematically possible (an OPS+ of 100 is considered average).
- Brad Lidge needs to stop giving up runs and baserunners; a WHIP of 1.89 and a BB/9 of over 4 will not cut it as a closer.
- Jaime Moyer and Joe Blanton need to stop runners from getting on base. For Moyer, he is allowing nearly 3 HR/9 IP. It's nearly a 17% HR/FB percentage, which is way above normal.
- Chase Utley looks hurt; I don't want to think about it or dream about it. He needs to play at 100%.
The foundation is there, it would be nice to beat the Mets and Braves head-to-head to establish ultimate authority over the division. It would be nicer to start winning at home and give the fans what they always want to see, a winner. We are now at the point of the season where slumps are not fluky anymore. The Phillies are well-positioned to remain in the race and bash opposing pitching staffs back to the bullpen purgatory.