Week In Review: Halladay strikes again, Howard blasting off – Phillies Nation

Week In Review: Halladay strikes again, Howard blasting off

4/25 – 5/1

As I speculated last week, the Phillies are relying heavily on their starting rotation.  The juggernaut group of aces Ruben Amaro Jr. has put together has somewhat disguised the fact that the Phillies offense is wavering.  The combo of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee at the top of the rotation is daunting in itself.  If for some reason you survive that onslaught, next up is Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

But as we all know, games can’t always be won depending solely on the starting pitchers.  Many factors come into play during nine, sometimes more, innings.

Lee has fallen victim to this twice this week.  In two starts Lee has thrown 14 innings and allowed only five runs.  In return the Phillies offense provided him with no run support in both starts and only one run in those games.

There is no obvious pattern to the Phillies offense this year.  The only real measurable success the team has had is against lefties.  They are 8-1 this year facing south paws.  This stat is a little odd considering last night’s lineup featured only one pure righty with Placido Polanco.

Overall it was a pretty mediocre week for the Phillies.  They, once again, turned below average pitchers into Cy Young caliber arms.  Even in Halladay’s complete game win over the Mets they only managed two runs off starter Jonathon Niese.  Against Arizona, Ian Kennedy threw a complete game three hit shutout against the Phillies while striking out 10.

It’s not that the offense is non-existent, it’s just that it doesn’t show up when it needs to.  Yes, John Mayberry Jr. came through the other day with a game tying sole home run that paved the way for Polanco’s sac fly to give the Phils the lead and ultimately the win for Halladay.

And kudos to the team for giving Vance Worley a nice cushion to work with when he got the call to fill in for Joe Blanton.  The Phillies scored eight runs in the six innings Worley pitched.  He allowed only two hits after being called up from Lehigh Valley.   Ryan Howard hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and knocked in six runs.

The next two days the Phillies only managed three runs in 23 innings for Halladay and Lee after scoring eight for Cole Hamels and 10 for Worley.

All in all, the team still boasts the best ERA in the East and second best in the National League (3.07).  There are going to be many one run ball games and the Phillies will end up on both sides of the equation.  This week alone, the Phillies had a 2-1 win and a 2-1 loss.  This probably won’t be the last week that happens.

For the offense there were some bright spots this week.  Not since his rookie season has Ryan Howard been seeing the ball this well.  Howard has been in the top five of MVP voting since he put Phillies pinstripes on and has always been dubbed one of the premiere hitters in the league.  He is guy that can hit for tremendous power while hitting for a high average.  This season he has moved closer to the plate in order to reach the outside pitch better.  He is learning that the ball doesn’t have to go 500 feet to be effective.

In last night’s game, Howard took an outside pitch to left field to score Mayberry for the Phils only run of the night.  Howard leads the National League with 27 RBIs and his second on the team with a .286 batting average.   Mayberry is hitting .313 but with 70-less at bats.

This week Howard had six hits, three home runs and eight RBIs; by far one of his best offensive weeks.  Not to be outdone, Polanco has continued his assault on National League pitching increasing his team leading batting average to .385.  He is hitting over .450 during his current 11 game hitting streak.

I wonder if flip flopping Polanco and Jimmy Rollins in the batting order would change things up at all.  Rollins only has five RBIs in the season and Shane Victorino has been working the count better and managing to get on base more.  Victorino has a five game hitting streak and has been on base in six of the last seven games.  Rollins, who has nine hits and 5 walks in his last seven games could be on base as well for Polanco in the third spot.  It’s a small tweak, but could result in more runs for the offense.

And yes I am fully aware the offense leads the East in runs scored but these runs are coming in bunches, all at one time.  Blow out games are fun to watch but they make those 2-1 losses with Lee on the mound that much more frustrating to watch.

Some notes from the week:

-Roy Oswalt should be returning to the team Thursday for a bullpen session.  He left the team to go home to check on his family during the storms that hit the central United States producing deadly tornados.  Cole Hamels will most likely start Tuesday on his spot, on normal rest.

-Joe Blanton is on the DL, adding to the list of injured Phillies.  Carlos Ruiz is not there yet, but has been out with a tight back.

Chase Utley played the equivalent of a three inning simulated game.  Could we see him back earlier than expected?

-The Phillies set a new team record for most wins in April (18), Polanco for hits in April (41), and Howard for RBIs in April (27).

-Halladay begin his start against the Mets with 18 straight strikes.  His first ball was thrown against Jose Reyes, in his second time through the line up.

The Phillies are 18-9 on the season which is tops in the National League.  The month of May will provide some challenges playing the Marlins, the Braves twice and interleague against Texas.  April was fun, but May will be tough.  The offense needs to back up the pitching.

Click to comment


  1. Publius

    May 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Time to give Raul the Ol’ Yeller treatment

    • Pat Gallen

      May 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      I know I’m not supposed to be in the business of feeling bad for people, but I do kinda feel for Raul. It’s just ugly right now and to see him struggling like that firsthand, over and over is kinda sad. The dude worked his ass off in the offseason trying to be better prepared and it really did nothing. I guess when you lose bat speed, you won’t get it back no matter how hard you try.

      Publius, I know you don’t give a rats ass about it, but regardless, Raul has quietly gone about his business and been a true competitor. I have to agree though. At the very least, he can no longer start and they should probably just give him some bench at bats until they devise a plan.

      • Publius

        May 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        I mean sure, on the one hand professionalism is nice and all, but on the other what would you expect? If he came out against Cholly or blaming others his already-short leash would be cut completely.

        I’m also a Mariners fan, and this whole situation is entirely too reminiscent of the Griffey decline last year. Then, however, Griffey was an icon in Seattle and so had to be dealt with soft hands. I just don’t understand why we’re being so soft with Raul in this case, other than the vast overpay Rube gave him a couple years ago.

  2. Pat Gallen

    May 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    From what I gather, the Phillies are a very family oriented team. I think that plays into it. Raul is part of the fabric of the team (just my thought) and they don’t quite want to let him go. They see an 18-9 record, therefore giving them the ability to try and let Raul get hot, build some confidence, and go one a 2nd half tear like a did a year ago.

    Is that the correct way to go about it? Probably not. But it is something I have noticed – they stand by their players, Charlie especially. He’s probably the most hard-headed about that. He takes a liking to veteran guys. And it’s not something that is harming the team to where they are below .500. Could they have a few more wins? Yeah. But they are going to give him every opportunity to succeed again.

    • SDO

      May 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      This explanation makes a lot of sense – I can’t find any other satisfying way to understand it.

  3. Don M

    May 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    He did hit the ball hard his first two at-bats last night…. I was watching, hoping, praying he was going to be the hero last night … multiple times … and of course it didn’t happen

  4. Ryan H.

    May 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    the expectations here have got to calm down!!!! “a pretty mediocre week” … really? seriously? they were on a west coast swing. back during the days of sanity we’d consider playing .500 ball a success on a west coast trip. now we have to sweep every series regardless of the circumstance just to appease these ridiculous standards the fans have set.

    the offense hasn’t been that bad either. teams don’t score 7 runs a game all year long. the phillies offense has scored 121 runs so far. putting them 6th in the league and only ten runs behind 3rd place Arizona (whom they were tied with just a few days ago). reading the commentary on this site and of the fans in general would lead you to believe that the offense has been absolutely putrid. typical negadelphian sickness.

    Chris Young is a damn good pitcher when he’s healthy and he throws the kind of junkball stuff that has always driven the phillies fastball hitting lineup.

    We still have the best homerun hitter in the game in Ryan Howard. His presence in the lineup alone makes the phillies a dangerous offense. He is the one person on this team the Phillies can really ill afford to lose.

    • Pat Gallen

      May 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Ryan, I wouldn’t say the commentary would lead you to believe we think the offense just downright sucks. But you and I both know they’ve left A LOT on the table recently.

  5. Andrew from waldorf

    May 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Do people forget how bad the offense was in stretches last year? Including the stretch in the NLCS which killed a team that had no business losing to Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross. The Giants will not come close to the playoffs this year. Which is good for the Phils because that is the style of team that will beat them again if they face them.

    When I consider the Phillies line up I factor in last year alot more than this years one month.
    Then I take away Werth and add a year of age to all the age 30+ players. So its something to worry about.

    But they just had a stellar april so you really cant complain. I only point out some things I see.Get back to me on june 1 and Ill be able to tell you alot more about the Phillies and where they stand and what they need. If anything.

  6. Dr. Dave

    May 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Would we take 108-54? Of course we would. That is what .667 ball gets you. Yes, we need more offense consistently. Yes, Raul needs to become a pinch-hitter deluxe. What is inspiring is our pitching and our fans. The chants of USA around the ballpark last night was inspiring. Yesterday will be remembered for the takedown of UBL, not a 2-1 loss in 14 innings.

    • Pat Gallen

      May 2, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      I just don’t see them winning 108 games with this offense. But then again, I’m usually wrong.

      Raul becoming a pinch-hitter deluxe would mean he has to HIT. Low blow?

  7. TheDipsy

    May 2, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I kinda feel bad for Raul in the sense that he appears to have lost the ability to play the game that I am sure he loves at a level he has grown accustomed, too. On the other hand, he does cash a big freakin check every week. I think that when Dom is ready, and if Raul is still struggling, that he should be brought up and plopped directly into right field. No platooning. BenFran goes to LF. BenFran is not a good rightfielder. In fact, he sucks. The logic is why not put up with a guy you’re gonna grow with struggling to get his legs in the bigs as opposed to struggling with a guy thats got one foot in it, knowwhatImsayin?

    The Dipsy

  8. Andrew from waldorf

    May 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Agree with everything. Except that Ben sucks in right. Sure hes not Werth. But he has some speed and hes OK.

    Maybe even play Brown in left. Whoever is better Brown or Ben plays right.

    As for Raul becoming a key pinch hitter. I dont see it. Maybe it is time to settle out a portion of his contract. and he will retire.
    Raul is a good guy. Maybe he would take 2 million and just go home to Seattle or whereever he lives.

  9. philliesphanmike

    May 3, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Getting to watch both Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels in the minors with the Lakewood BlueClaws was something special. Once the boys start hitting the ball on a more consistent basis they will be a force to recon with. I’m excited for October.

  10. Lewisauce

    May 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Agree with Dipsy. We’re getting zero out of Raul now, so why not put the young guy in there and let him earn his stripes at an MLB corner outfield spot? It can’t possibly be worse than what you are getting now.

    And I like the idea of moving BenFran to LF. Dom has a better arm and more speed, so he’s better suited to RF anyway. If people are really worried about Dom, you can always platoon him with Mayberry when you face lefties. This would still give Brown 3-4 starts a week, with Mayberry taking the other two.

    I like Raul, but no amount of working out will reverse an age-related decline in reflexes, eyesight and bat speed. He just looks overmatched every at bat.

  11. Dan

    May 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I feel that instead of playing Raul all the time, that the phillies should be giving the younger/bench players some time in the field too. I mean some of our back ups are the best in the league right now. So we should see what they have if they played a whole game.

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