Defying the very laws of physics, the Phillies have lost four straight games and now sit just a half game ahead of the Florida Marlins in the NL East. But that’s not the frightening part. While its only mid-May, and the season is still young, there’s no doubt that the seedlings of real concern have been planted.
Here are some stats to consider: 24.1 IP, 9 ER, 19 K, 10 BB, 3.33 ERA. That’s what the Phillies starters have done the past four games. Those numbers are good enough to win, and almost unthinkable to lose four straight. Blanton, Halladay, Lee and Oswalt are a combined 0-3 in the last four, with only Oswalt being spared the undeserving L (Baez was the recipient of that loss, something he deserves about as much as Einstein deserved the Nobel Prize).
The Phillies offense has been nonexistent in their current four-game skid. They’ve managed a total of 17 hits and seven RBI while hitting .142 and striking out 22 times. They’ve hit 1-14 with runners in scoring position and left 20 men on base. If you feel dirty, you should. That’s pathetic offensive baseball.
But dare I ask the question, what do you expect?
The Phillies lineup is currently comprised of only a handful of players that would actually start for another Major League roster. The Ibanez-Francisco-Mayberry-Martinez platoon in the outfield? Hard to find a starter there, although I do have some hope for Mayberry as a future contributer. How about Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr in the infield? Dane Sardinha behind the plate? Not exactly Charlie’s vision in early March.
The Phillies roster is tragically devoid of a number three or five hitter, and that makes life difficult for an offense. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth combined for 19 percent of the team’s hits in 2010, 23 percent of all doubles, 26 percent of home runs and 20 percent of RBIs (all with Utley only playing 115 games). And here’s some love for the baseball stat nerds. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is widely considered to be one of the most insightful measurements in the stat-obsessed baseball world. It stands for the number of wins, statistically speaking, a player is worth above his replacement on the depth chart. Werth led the Phillies with a WAR rating of 5.1 (8th in NL). Utley was third on the team at 4.2 (20th in NL). Simply put, they were good. And compared to what they have now, they were on the first bus to Cooperstown.
Take that production out of your lineup, along Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz, and I’ll ask again:
What do you expect?