Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wither Runners In Scoring Position?

The increasingly ugly truth is the Phillies have stopped hitting. Going back a few weeks now they've been mired in a collective slump save the occasional long-ball assault led largely by Ryan Howard.

Chief among the fallen is Raul Ibanez, who looks terrible at the plate. Since returning from the DL in the Summer, his average has dropped more than fifty points and is now in real danger of falling below .270. How much longer can Charlie Manuel run him out there instead of the far better fielder and certainly no lighter hitter than Ben Fancisco?

J.A. Happ took last night's loss, his second straight in which he pitched well until suddenly self-destructing and serving up long balls. No doubt it would help to know he was getting some support, but he has only himself to blame for serving up fat pitches. Commentary by Gary Matthews correctly suggests part of the problem is pitch selection. When he had Juan Uribe down 1-2 in the count it was no time to throw him a fastball up in the zone. Aaron Rowand followed with a home run off a pitch that could be charitably called right down Broadway with nothing on it.

Everyone is regressing to their personal mean at the same time. Pedro Feliz has stopped producing. Shane Victorino is slumping. Jimmy Rollins' march to respectability has hit a speed bump. The aforementioned Ibanez is falling below his career average. Jayson Werth remains streaky. Chase Utley is hitting but hovering around the .300 mark, too. Up one day a point or two, down the next. Howard is the only one who is hitting including singles and doubles, but, alas, there's no one on base ahead of him.

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