The Philadelphia Phillies hosted two division rivals this week, and almost did what they had to do.
The good news: They scored 18 runs while sweeping Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals. This was more than enough offense, given the fine pitching performances of Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Roy Halladay.
Now, for the bad news: They ran into a hot Atlanta Braves team this past weekend, and only eked out five total runs in dropping two of the three showdowns.
The week’s action saw the Phils hang on to first place in the NL East with a terrific 22-11 record. But, Florida is only two back and those Braves—with their plethora of potent pitchers— lurk at only three-and-half back.
For the week, the Phillies scored 23 runs while yielding only 18. If you have been watching, that’s not too surprising. On the young season, their team ERA is 3.06, and they average 4.36 runs per contest.
So, in yet another pitching-rich (with mediocre offense) week, who are the leading candidates for my Top Phillie of the Week Award?
Let’s count down from No. 7 to this year’s proud (we hope) winner.
7. Jimmy Rollins: J-Roll looked more comfortable in his familiar leadoff position, and responded by batting .348 (8-for-23) with four runs and two RBI in the six games. Most importantly, he resembled a leadoff man this week, drawing five walks and only striking out once.
As such, he just edges out center fielder Shane Victorino, who hit safely in all six games. Victorino went 8-for-24 (.333) with three runs, five RBI and two stolen bases.
Sorry, Shane, but we need room for our pitching staff and another outfielder who came out of his coma this week.
6. Cole Hamels: Hamels started the week with a win and closed it with a loss, but pitched well enough to win both.
He yielded only one run on five hits in a complete game, 4-1 win over the Nats. Yesterday, Cole was charged with three runs on five hits in seven innings of service.
For the week, Hamels pitched 16 innings, giving up 10 hits and four earned runs (good for a 2.25 ERA). Even more impressively, he struck out 15 while only walking two batters.
5. Cliff Lee: This may seem like a sentimental pick, as Lee lost the only game he started, 5-0 to the Braves on Friday night. Sentimental? Let’s examine the numbers.
Lee gave up three earned runs on nine hits in seven innings—his fifth quality start in seven outings.
Against the Braves, Cliff struck out a remarkable 16 batters, nine of them looking. Some so-so defense did him in the third, an inning where he gave up those three runs. Interestingly, he struck out the side—all looking—that same inning!
For the season, the prize free agent is 2-3 with a 3.69 ERA. He has also fanned a MLB-best 60 batters against only seven walks. Tough luck and lack of support would be an understatement.
4. Kyle Kendrick: Kendrick got the start on Saturday night, matched up with Braves 20-year-old phenom Julio Teheran. One would not blame KK if he were not up to the task, as his previous eight appearances this year have been out of the pen (and none longer than three innings).
Kendrick picked up the win, pitching five innings of two-hit, shutout ball. He limited his walks to one, while striking out three.
3. Raul Ibanez: The veteran outfielder snapped out of his 0-for-438 (or whatever it was) slumber, and exploded against the Nationals. Raul went 10-for-22 (.455) with two homers, five RBI and four runs.
At .212, he still needs to remain hot (or go on a diet) to hit his weight, but the left fielder was batting a measly .154 prior to this week’s tear.
2. Roy Halladay: Is there any other Phillies player (and one can go back 20 years or so) of whom we take his excellence for granted?
Doc got the best of the Nats again, pitching seven innings of two-run ball in the 7-3 win. Big Roy struck out 10 while not issuing a free pass.
One of the beauties of the Phillies vaunted rotation is their amazing k/bb ratio. Doc and Lee may be the top two in MLB in that regard, and Hamels and Oswalt (who, hopefully, will return to the mound in a couple weeks) are also stingy when it comes to handing out free passes.
1. Our No. 1 spot this week goes to 23-year-old righty Vance Worley. Worley only threw six innings against the Nats, but earned the win while yielding only one run on four hits.
The Long Beach State product fanned seven and walked none. For his superb work, the man with an 0.75 ERA in two starts earns an uncertain immediate future with the team.
But, Vance, look on the bright side: In just six innings of work, you walked away with our fourth Top Phillie of the Week Award.
For more information on Matt Goldberg’s new books, as well as writing, speaking and interview requests, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him via his Bleacher Report homepage.