Monday, September 12, 2011

Pitching And Defense

No Jimmy.  No Chase.  Some Howard.

No one would have guessed the Phils would take 3 of 4 from the Brewers in Milwaukee while the core of the team sat and watched, some from nearly 900 miles away.  No one, that is, but the Phillies themselves.

If anyone needed further evidence good pitching beats good hitting, they should sit down and watch a replay of this weekend's four-game set with Milwaukee. And if anyone needed further evidence good defense makes up for some offensive deficiencies, they should watch the same tapes.

The Phils' march to the post-season is due in large measure to the strength of its starting rotation and its ability to catch and throw the ball. True, they are near the league lead in runs scored, but no one is kidding himself about the strengths and weaknesses of this team. Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke said it best when it noted the Phils keep throwing one great starter after another at the opposition.

One of the more difficult tasks facing the manager in these last few weeks of the regular season is the question of what to do with all his good starting pitching. Not everyone can make the post-season roster as a starter and it appears even brilliant rookie Vance Worley, who has won eleven games, will have to move to the bullpen. The trick is to get Worley and other bullpen candidates some game experience from that perspective. With Michael Stutes encountering some bumps in the road lately and their only lefty, Antonio Bastardo, suddenly very mortal, the Phils need to work out the seventh and eighth inning candidates. Unfortunately, they don't have a lefty other than Bastardo to audition.

But that won't be as critical an issue if the starters continue to go so deep into games. Still, as the games and innings pile up, the bullpen becomes more critical than ever.

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