Philadelphia Phillies Woes: Once Pitching Improves, Success Will Follow

Claire ReclosadoSenior Analyst IJuly 2, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 10:  Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the New York Mets during their game on June 10, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

As the Philadelphia Phillies enter tonight’s game with the threat of being swept by the Atlanta Braves, the grumblings about the team’s losing ways has been growing with every popup, error, and run allowed.

Fingers have been pointed various directions—namely World Championship hangover, slumping bats, and injured players.

Many look at shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ struggles as a key reason the Phils have been sliding downhill. Following Wednesday’s game, he extended his hitless streak and now is 0-for-27. True, it’s hard to ignore the team’s leadoff hitter in the worst slump of his career, but the 2007 NL MVP is not the sole reason for the team’s recent failures.

Philadelphia is second the National League in runs scored (392) and lead in slugging percentage (.446). It’s the pitching that hurts.

Their bullpen, featured on MLB Network’s “The Pen,” is not the flawless bullpen of last year. The bullpen's cumulative ERA stands at 4.08—19th in the Majors. With injuries sidelining Brad Lidge earlier and now Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre, the relief pitchers’ health is something not easily overlooked.

The bullpen woes aren’t what are doing the most harm, however. The starting pitching is ranked 28th in the Majors with a 5.31 ERA—ahead of only the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, both last place in their respective divisions.

As a reflection of how deep the starting pitching problems go, in Wednesday’s game, Phillies ace Cole Hamels lasted only four innings, giving up nine runs in that short outing. It wasn’t too long ago that Hamels was being paraded around the city and on the small screen as he was the widely celebrated World Series MVP.

With all of this in mind, things are not where many hoped they would be, but the Phillies are still in first place in the NL East. With a little more than half a season left, it’s not time for people to give up on the reigning Champs.