All along, the rally cry was, "Don't worry, as long as the Phillies have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation, all will be OK." Pfffffft.
That didn't last very long, did it?
Halladay got off to a terrific start, winning his first three starts. But since then, for the first time since he's been in a Phillies uniform, the team has lost four straight games with Roy on the bump.
Lee, who hasn't pitched badly while healthy, is still seeking his first win on the season.
More concerning is that the bats really aren't killing them like they did in the first three weeks of the season. In the first 20 games, the Phillies went 9-11 while averaging 3.2 runs per game. In the last 12 games, they have gone 5-7 while averaging 4.8 runs per game.
This is not an indictment against the performances of Halladay and Lee.
Without a doubt, they both have pitched well enough to win ballgames during this combined eight-game skid. Lee carries a very impressive 2.17 ERA, while Doc has a 3.28 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP.
But it's a major concern when the team's record is 3-8 when two-thirds of its aces are taking the hill. Take away games started by Halladay/Lee, and the Phillies' record is 11-10.
While the offense is showing signs of life, the bullpen is in absolute shambles.
Is there really anyone closing out games that Charlie Manuel should have confidence in besides Jonathan Papelbon?
Even Antonio Bastardo looks like a different pitcher than what he was in 2011. Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee aren't putting him into similar pressure spots as they did last season.
Kyle Kendrick has been a beach ball-throwing torch. Journeyman Chad Qualls started off well but has been getting ripped the last week, and he's probably miscast in the eighth inning, but who else do they have?
Jose Contreras has a 8.59 ERA, and opponents are hitting .345 off of him.
So, it's great to have Halladay/Lee at the top of the rotation, but it's not enough. The Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. need to figure out Plan B and quickly.
When Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return, that's not going to turn Kendrick and Contreras and Co. into Cy Young. At this point last season, Halladay and Lee already had seven wins between them. That's more than twice the amount of wins the Phillies have this season when those two take the hill.
That trend needs to stop for this team to sniff .500.
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