Monday, September 04, 2006

Back To Square One

Forget the starting pitchers, Ryan Howard should sue for support!!

Every time the phenomenal sophomore performs another prodigious feat, his mates try their best to ruin the occasion.  In the last five games they have succeeded three times and in the process the Phillies’ Wild Card chances diminish and Howard’s big moments are overshadowed.  

The simple truth is the Phillies are not quite good enough to get over the hump.  The reasons are many, but we can start with a third baseman who cannot hit, a right/left fielder who has fallen back to earth, a bullpen that is overworked, and a closer who can’t.  Despite Chris Coste’s magical season, catching is another problem area if for no other reason than it is a revolving door at precisely a spot in the lineup that begs for constancy. Throw in Chase Utley’s continued funk (despite two home runs Saturday his average has dropped 23 points since his consecutive hitting streak ended) and you have all the ingredients for a mediocre (read .500) team.

Those who looked at the remaining schedule a week ago and licked their chops at the prospect of playing all of those sub-.500 teams neglected one point:  the Phils aren’t much better.  As if to underscore their own average profile, the Phillies blew late leads in two games for the first time in 62 chances this season.  Killer instinct is not a description associated with a pedestrian club.  The secret to success has always been to play .500 ball against the top teams and dominate the mediocre ones.

It hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to change.


Maria said...

Ryan Howard is a beast & the bullpen was dissapointing. These last five days have been hell.

RickSchuBlues said...

Tom, you're probably right that in the end they aren't good enough. Without an edge of urgency which was strangely absent in that second game yesterday, they won't be able to rely on talent alone to come out on top.

The intersting this is, I feel they'll directly control their own fate. Despite the Padres and Reds being the most immediate competition, it is the Astros and Marlins who strike me as the most likely teams to pull forward and win the WC. If the Phillies can play them tough - really, not just tough, but successfully - they'll have a shot. Winning this series against Houston at home is therefore a must, for starters. But it'll be a tall order against their pitching.

dane said...

the phils may only be an average team but no other team in the race is better, so I'm holding out hope the pitching can be adequate. then the phils can ride howard and utley into the playoffs.