Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Nearly every night it’s the same old story:  starting pitching puts the Phillies in a hole and they rarely climb out of it.

Before a single at-bat, the Phillies look up at the scoreboard and see themselves trailing, sometimes by 3 or 4 or 5 runs.

Worse, if they begin to claw their way back and score in the bottom of a frame, the starters nearly always go out and give a run or two right back.

It’s maddening, frustrating and, in the end, nearly always fatal.

The pundits had it right all along.  The 2006 Phillies are a mediocre team where it counts the most:  pitching.

Last night’s starter, Gavin Floyd, is pitching on borrowed time.  The scouting reports on Floyd talk of his fastball, curve and change-up.  Well, his fastball doesn’t appear to have any movement on it; his command of his curve is elusive at best; and he rarely throws the change because, as Harry Kalas pointed out last night, he is too often behind in the count.

Floyd looks and acts like the shell-shocked pitcher he is.  Whatever confidence he rediscovered during Spring Training is long gone now.  His is the classic deer-in-the-headlights stare.  His manager insists he will be given another chance or two, but what else is Manuel going to do?  Who, exactly, is waiting in the wings?

Lest I forget, Ryan Madson’s last outing was an even greater disaster than Floyd’s, and John Lieber is 0 – 4.

Come to think of it, even the pundits thought the Phils’ starting pitching would be better than this!!

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Beerleaguer  recently pointed to defense as another culprit in the Phillies’ poor start.  Every night someone blows an easy play.  Last night, Jimmy Rollins threw away a ball and it cost the team an unearned run that proved to be the final margin of defeat.  Too many mistakes by too many fielders reveal a team whose concentration is poor after less than a month on the job.  How will they play in the heat and humidity?

Sal Pasano started at catcher last night.   He may have delivered two hits (and no pizzas to his cheering section), but he is no defensive whiz, especially when throwing to second base.  Why is Pasano catching Floyd instead of Mike Lieberthal?  Is he the superior psychologist?


Oisín/Wizlah said...

I don't think Madson will continue to be as bad as his last start. Previous to his shelling he looked tenacious in both starts - I was very impressed with his composure after the early hits he gave up on his first game. I don't think he's a pitcher who's going to descend into shocked incomprehension on the mound. Unlike Floyd.

Stu B. said...

The pattern portends a difficult season. In the typical game, the starter will give up 3-5 runs over 5-7 innings - which will too often be accepted, even complimented, as "keeping us in the game" or a "quality start" instead of the poor to mediocre performance it is. Then the bullpen will allow another run or two during its 3 or 4 innings of work. This all suggests the Phillies are going to have to average 5+ runs per game for a .500 season - a tough road, particularly within the division.

Tom Goodman said...

I agree the road will be tough, stu b., but I wonder if 5+ runs would be enough.

Before the season got underway I guessed the Phillies would come in second or third in the division, doing so by largely outscoring people in 10 - 9 games. Well, after a few weeks evidence I now believe the Phils will more than likely be on the short end of most of those high scoring affairs.

Yes, they will score runs (though they haven't been for much of 2006), but the starting pitching is far worse than some imagined.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I mean really... could anyone have seen Jon Lieber being this bad? I know Lieber isn't the second coming of Koufax, but would a 2-2 record have been too much to ask in April? This bothers me more so than Gavin Floyd or the occasional lapse by Madson. I didn't expect much of Floyd and I too think Madson will be OK. Lieber is just downright depressing now.