Opinion

Gomez, the offense and other observations after one week

Michael Saunders looks to be a good addition to the 2017 Phillies. Photo by Keith Allison

Don’t overreact to the first week of the season.

It’s no different than a week in July.

You don’t win division titles in April, you win them in September.

Blah, blah, blah.

It’s true, you shouldn’t look too harshly or complimentary at the first week of the season for any baseball team. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start to form some kind of opinion. So here are five things we learned about the Phillies after their first six games:

JEANMAR GOMEZ SHOULD NOT BE THE CLOSER

We knew this was the truth a week ago when the team broke camp, two months ago when Pete Mackanin named him the closer to start the season and last September when he completely imploded. Gomez is a decent reliever who should be called on in the seventh or eighth inning to induce a double-play ground ball from a right-handed hitter, but he became the closer in 2016 because the Phillies had no other viable options. Now they have three pretty acceptable options in Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek, none of whom have yet given up a run. On the bright side for the Phillies, this was the best-case scenario for Gomez to prove he doesn’t belong in the closer role. Both games in which he supplied the proof, the Phillies won.

THE OFFENSE IS IMPROVED

There likely won’t be another 17-run game this season, and almost definitely won’t be a another 12-run inning. But if Saturday’s game proved anything, it’s that the Phillies offense won’t be as consistently, frustratingly anemic as it was last year. That will finally take some pressure off the pitching staff, which won’t go out thinking they have to throw a shutout every time they step on the rubber, and give the bullpen some room to work. But …

IT’S NOT 17 RUNS A GAME IMPROVED

These guys aren’t the ‘27 Yankees, and they’re not the Blue Jays. They’re still young, and while Saturday’s game was a look at what they could do, they’re not going to be doing it every night. There is still more than enough statistical evidence to show this team is going to look like the offense from Wednesday night’s game more than it will look like the offense from Saturday night’s game. But at least the offense from Saturday is attainable, it wasn’t last year.

THIS HAS THE LOOKS OF A WARM-WEATHER TEAM

Those three Cincinnati games were brutal weather, and the Phillies looked pretty bad, especially the second game that featured a near-one-hour rain delay. The home-opening offense looked awful against Max Scherzer in the cold until it got revved up a little over the last few innings thanks to some questionable managerial decisions in the visitors’ dugout from Dusty Baker. But with some good weather Saturday night they exploded for 17 runs and finally seemed to solve Stephen Strasburg on a beautiful Sunday. It’s tough to find a team that is good in the cold, but the Phillies may just be particularly bad in that area.

IT WAS A GREAT OFFSEASON

Benoit, Neshek, Daniel Nava and Howie Kendrick couldn’t have gotten off to better starts if they tried. Michael Saunders looks good, if not terribly impressive. Clay Buchholz could still be pretty good. Odubel Herrera looks like he deserved that contract extension, and while no one thinks Jeremy Hellickson is worth what the Phillies paid for him for the situation they’re in, if he keeps looking like this, he’s going to come pretty close to that $17-million-plus one-year contract.

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