5 Observations From the Rangers Series – Phillies Nation

5 Observations From the Rangers Series

With the first series of the season in the books, let’s look back on some things that caught my eye.

1. Antonio Bastardo- Antonio Bastardo was used in the 8th inning of the first two games of the series and was very successful. In 2.1 innings pitched, Bastardo struck out two while walking one. Most importantly, he looked comfortable on the mound, utilizing all of his pitches. With Mike Adams still hurting, Bastardo looks to be the guy in the 8th inning. If  last night is any indicator, Bastardo could eventually be the closer if Papelbon continues to struggle.

2. Kyle Kendrick/A.J. Burnett- Both starting pitchers turned in solid performances against a very good Rangers lineup. Unfortunately, they each received no decisions. Burnett went six innings, giving up seven hits and one earned run. Kendrick was more impressive as he went seven innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. Both were aggressive in the strike zone, and let the defense do the work behind them.

3. Ryne Sandberg willing to alter the lineup- Sandberg did not go with the same lineup throughout the whole series. One night after the Phillies scored 14 runs on 17 hits, Sandberg elected to bat Ryan Howard 5th against a lefty, something that had not happened since 2008. He stuck Marlon Byrd in the cleanup spot and started the right handed Jayson Nix at third instead of Cody Asche. Perhaps a little bit of “over managing” on Sandberg’s part especially coming off a 14 run performance, but it looks like he will not hesitate to change the lineup depending on the opposing pitcher.

4. Spring Training, Shming Shmaining- Cody Asche (.170 spring BA), Chase Utley (.217 spring BA), and Ryan Howard (.227 spring BA) struggled throughout Spring Training. However, each found success in the opening series. Cody Asche batted .500 in 8 ABs with one home run and two RBIs,  Chase Utley batted .385  in 13 ABs with one double and one RBI, and Ryan Howard batted .301 in 13 ABs with one monster home run and two RBIs (he did strike out 7 times, however). While this is a very small sample, it is encouraging to see that each have come out of the gates swinging the bats relatively well.

5. Mario Hollands- Hollands made his MLB debut Tuesday night in a very tough spot; in a tie game in the 9th inning. Not the ideal spot to make your MLB debut. Hollands struggled, walking Shin-Soo Choo on four pitches, and later walked Prince Fielder as well. The game winning run was charged to Hollands. However, he got a second chance in eighth inning of last night’s game, and bounced back, having a 1-2-3 inning. In order to be a successful reliever, you must have a short memory. Hollands showed that last night.



  1. Ken Bland

    April 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Mention of the improvement over spring numbers kinda bypassed a guy who did have a good spring, and kept rolling through the first 3 games. Marlon Byrd seems like a good add to the list of observations of the series. Ruben did substantially grow his income over last year, but 8 mil for a regular OF’s a pretty good number if you just view it from that perspective. Byrd could wind up the best rightfielder the club’s had in a couple years, and from a relative standpoint of since Werth, his nice start is particularly refreshing. We’ll see how he does longer term, but I’m pretty comfortable with him as a mid lineup guy. At least there are signs of it being an underrated signing.

  2. Hogey's Role

    April 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Howard’s home run really wasn’t a monster home run, but other than that the most important thing I saw in all three games is that these guys look pretty decent… Honestly they should have won all 3 of these games, hopefully everyone stays healthy And we get a win streak started vs Chicago

  3. A Roy

    April 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    6. We still have one of the shakiest (and most expensive)closers in the majors. Thanks, RAJ.

    • Jebidiah Atkinson

      April 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      6A. But we do have cost certainty at the closer position.

  4. Rob 311

    April 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    As disappointing as papelbons blown save was even more alarming was his reaction both during and after the game. Sure they could have set up for a double play instead of bringing the infield in but come on he threw his teammates under the bus on game 3! That is just unacceptable in every way. They could have played better defense but the blame falls completely on him. Whether he’s good or bad that kind of attitude will run him out of town and even more out of favor with the fans which is hard to do given how big of an ass he’s been thus far.

  5. brooks

    April 4, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Hitting a ball 411 feet is a monster of a home run, in any park.
    I’m glad the observations did not lead to any conclusions, waaaay too early for any of that.
    What I saw was an inpatient Ryan Howard who STILL is not utilizing any other part of the field.
    I’m pretty anxious to see how much of Pappy’s nonsense the Sandburg/Bowa combination will put up with – and how they will handle it –

    • Hogey's Role

      April 4, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Wall scraper

      • schmenkman

        April 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

        Yes, but at 419 feet it’s also the 15th longest of the year so far, out of 78 total.

  6. The Original Chuck P

    April 4, 2014 at 10:19 am

    A lot of reasons to feel good… better, at least. Howard did have a hit to left field, Utley looks good, Asche looks good, Byrd looks good… all those guys were big “if’s.” On the pitching side, middle relief will be okay if Bastardo is on point (which he was). Starting pitching will be fine if Kendrick and Burnett are solid (which they were). The only real negative I see is the closer who appears to be cooked… at a minimum (and this is what we have to hope), he’s going through a post-ST dead arm phase. But when your flame throwing closer can’t hit 92 (and he’s dropping his arm slot to throw his fastball)and blames his misgivings on the infield being back, that tells me that a.) he doesn’t have it physically (he’s trying to find extra mph by going to a more comfortable arm slot because perhaps his shoulder isn’t right) and b.) he doesn’t have it mentally because rather than attacking the batter – looking for the strikeout – he’s pitching to contact, relying on his defense.

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