Philadelphia Phillies: With Lineup Slumping, Rotation Lives Up to Hype

Drew MillerContributor IIApril 24, 2011

Roy Halladay tied a career high 14 strikeouts against the Padres, completing a four game sweep.
Roy Halladay tied a career high 14 strikeouts against the Padres, completing a four game sweep.Rob Carr/Getty Images

On the eve of a four game sweep of the Padres, the Phillies rotation have shown fans why there has been so much buzz around them.

In this series, they held the Padres to a total of three runs—yes, three runs in four games.

Roy "Doc" Halladay doesn't even amaze me anymore, tying a career high 14 strikeouts in 8.2 innings. Cole Hamels threw eight scoreless innings and also struck out eight batters, and even Big Joe Blanton stepped up only allowing two runs in seven innings.

On the other hand, with the rotation shining, what is going on with the Phillies lineup?

Over the last nine games, the Phillies have scored an average of less than three runs per game. Luckily, the Phillies have won six of those nine games solely because of their pitching. Coming into the season, a point Phillies fans and analysts stressed was production from Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins with Chase Utley injured.

Howard is striking out less than expected, but has only hit three HR and and drove in 13 runs. He is hitting .284, which is better than expected.

However, Jimmy Rollins has underproduced. Charlie Manuel moved Rollins third in the lineup, and he has not performed like a three-hole hitter. He has hit .256 with no HR and two RBI. From a former MVP and three-hole hitter, more RBI are expected.

In order for the Phillies to succeed, these two players need to produce more.

What most people don't realize is that the Phillies are in a tough position. Their star second basemen, Chase Utley, is injured. With bench players like Wilson Valdez, Pete Orr and Michael Martinez platooning at second base, it is hard to get the production they would out of an all-star like Utley. Also, the injury forces Rollins to the three spot in the lineup, where he is not comfortable.

Look to see the Phillies lineup start to produce more when Utley comes back.

All season, the Phillies will have to deal with an inconsistent lineup. They will win games like today's, 3-1, all season long. Pitching duels where one of the "Phantastic Phour" goes eight plus innings.

The bottom line is the rotation will continue to carry this team that lacks offense.