7 Things We've Learned About the Phillies Through the First 20 Games
There have been things to get excited about and things to be worried about with the Philadelphia Phillies this season. I guess that explains their largely mediocre 10-10 record so far. I want to talk about seven of these trends right now.
I will caution that we probably should not read too much into these trends right now. Sure, 20 games is somewhat substantial, but this season is far from over. I would say that these seven things I am about the list for you are indicators. They are pointing towards things that seem to be happening, but keep in mind that the season is still young and there's still plenty of room for improvement or regression.
The Bullpen Needs Help
The Phillies have 10 losses so far, and four of those losses have been attributed to the bullpen. Five of the relief pitchers have ERAs over 7.00, and they have given up nine home runs combined.
On the whole, the staff is very young and very few of them have more than one complete year of major league experience. That being said, they need to start performing at a higher level. It is demoralizing to lose games so late.
Ryan Howard Is Back
Philadelphia fans love to complain about Ryan Howard’s massive contract, but he is at least doing more to earn that money.
He is currently hitting .270 with five home runs and 13 RBI. If you extend this success over the entire season, we could be looking at another 40-home run, 100-RBI season from the big guy. That would be welcome in the middle of the lineup.
Cliff Lee Has Had Strange Success
Cliff Lee is 3-2 and has a 3.09 ERA. He has 38 strikeouts in 35 innings, and he has only issued two walks this year. However, beyond that success, opponents are hitting .306 against him, which seems to spell trouble.
He has been able to control the damage so far this season, and that is great. However, it is slightly concerning that he is surrendering so many hits and allowing so many baserunners.
Chase Utley Is Playing Like an All-Star
Chase Utley had a solid year in 2013, and 2014 is already shaping up to be even better. His batting average is currently .391, and even though we all must expect that to drop by the end of the season, it is undeniably a great start.
He has three home runs and 12 RBI as well, so it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility to see him hit 25 home runs and drive in 100 runs.
The Phillies Are on the Run
With a full season under new manager Ryne Sandberg, it seems as if the Philadelphia Phillies will run a lot more than they did under Charlie Manuel. They have already stolen 12 bases this season after stealing only 73 all of last season.
Much of this increase will undoubtedly come from a full season with Ben Revere at the top of the lineup, but it seems as if their philosophy will involve more running then it has in the past.
The Offense Is Looking Up
Last season, Philadelphia had difficulty scoring runs. They scored the third-fewest runs in the National League in 2013, and that was a major problem.
This year, the Phillies have the sixth-most runs scored in the National League. While they would obviously love to be on top of the chart, at least by being in the upper tier, they are providing the support that the pitching staff needs to accumulate victories.
The Pitching Has Hardly Changed
I know that the names are different, but the Phillies pitching staff was ranked 27th in the major leagues last season in terms of ERA, and that is exactly where they are ranked this year.
The imminent return of Cole Hamels will hopefully help that number improve. He has All-Star potential, and that should help shore up some of these difficulties. The bullpen still needs work, as mentioned earlier, but maybe the rotation will be changing for the better.