Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rotation Blues

When the postmortem is inevitably performed on the Phillies in a few weeks doctors will be hard-pressed to single out a particular ailment as the fatal one, but everyone knows 'twas pitching killed the patient.

Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee have tried to follow their own Hippocratic oath and do no harm to the patient by juggling the depleted pitching staff, but they had to relent last night and throw Adam Eaton out there after nine days between starts (they euphemistically called it "rest" but everyone else called it for what it really was, avoidance). Eaton wasted no time in putting his mates in a hole out of which they never climbed, serving up the first of three home runs on the night to only the second batter of the game. Just like that the Phils were behind to stay. Eaton gave up six hits, two free passes, those three homers and four earned runs in five innings of work. Afterwards, he had this to say to the press: I don't think I necessarily threw the ball that bad, but obviously the bulk of my mistakes ended up over the fence. For the most part, I was happy with the way I threw the ball.

Spare us such happiness, Adam.

The 8-2 loss to Colorado, as potent a hitting team as exists in the NL, was one of those desultory performances by the Phils that normally come after a modest winning streak. The entire team seemed to sleep-walk its way through the nine innings, hardly the kind of urgency one should expect at this time of year. That's what playing behind the eight ball, or Adam Eaton, can do to a club.

What a miserable season from the pitchers. Even Cole Hamels has largely faded from the radar screen. All we have left are soft tosses, chiropractors and tender elbows. Freddy Garcia? A horse in a glue factory. J.D. Durbin? A hope and a prayer. Jamie Moyer? A wily old veteran who frequently acts both parts in the same outing. Kyle Kendrick? A huge surprise who having logged more innings thrown than any other season in his brief professional life is already on management's watch list lest he, too, breaks down. As for the bullpen? We aren't going there this post. Leave that for another postmortem.


David said...

This is one of the weirdest seasons in memory, yet in many senses it's absurdly familiar. In any case, I won't be all that sad to see it end. You'd think, after years of watching sub-.500 teams, that I would more roundly appreciate these teams that win in the 80's and stay in it all year, but the pattern here has been absolutely maddening. Everyone saw it coming from March, and no matter what combinaton of injuries and surprises have resulted, there was never a doubt that all roads would yet again lead to the Phillies eventually being "86-ed" from the playoff hunt. Some nights, it's enjoyable just to watch Rollins, Utley & co. rake, but more often the cruel temptation this team elicits leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The hardest thing to take about the Phillies' playoff drought is that it began right after baseball made it far easier than ever to obtain a playoff spot.

Tom Goodman said...

I and thousands others feel your pain. Your last point is particularly tough to swallow.