Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Ways to Keep Up the Momentum for the Rest of 2011
A vaunted pitching staff. An anemic offense. Which part of this equation will determine the Philadelphia Phillies' success?
The Phillies have not started out slow in the traditional sense of wins and losses. However, parts of the team have not fulfilled their obligations to a winning club.
Here are five ways to fine tune the Phillies club going forward.
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With the return of Chase Utley to the line-up, the Phillies have averaged 6.2 runs per game in seven games. Prior to Utley's debut, the Phillies got by with a three runs per game average.
The importance of Utley to the balance of this line-up is not underestimated. Wilson Valdez filled in admirably with the glove, but left plenty to be desired with the bat.
Once the weather heats up, so will Utley and the offensive attack of this Phillies ball club.
Consistent Relief Pitching
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The Phillies bullpen has been astonishingly good in 2011.
Ryan Madson, after filling in for injured closer Jose Contreras, has performed well in the closer's role, saving 11 in 11 opportunities.
Antonio Bastardo has matured by leaps and bounds, becoming more of a pitcher instead of a thrower.
Rookie Michael Stutes, who had plenty of buzz surrounding himself in spring training, has also pitched well beyond expectations for a player of his young age.
To continue their current success, the Phillies need to have consistency from the back end of their bullpen to get the tough outs.
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The Phillies offense is missing one crucial piece until it is running at full capacity, Shane Victorino.
The aforementioned balance will be fully intact once Victorino returns from a disabled list stint from an injured hamstring.
Manager Charlie Manuel will have his work cut for him in figuring out which mixture of hitters will produce a productive lineup.
Victorino can be batted first, second, or even sixth, if warranted.
Victorino is the wild card in this offense for his speed and high on base percentage of .343.
For the Phillies to make a deep run into the postseason, a fully healthy lineup for a large portion of the season will go a long way to achieving that.
Starting Pitching Dominance
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Cliff Lee started out slow by the perhaps unreachable standards set by fans and media alike.
Say what you want about Lee's early struggles, he is the man you want on the mound in October.
The four aces do not necessarily have to be lights out dominant for this club to be successful, but the thought that four of the best starting pitchers in the game can be thrown at any club during a postseason series is enough to strike fear into any opponent.
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It is safe to say that half of the game of baseball is based on luck.
The little blooping hits. The strikes that are called balls for or against your club.
Little things are the determining factor for the success of any ball club.
So many things are out of a team's control on their way through a season.
If the Phillies are to achieve ultimate success, they will need to have at least a little luck on their side to pull through.