Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

Games 22 through 26 - Phillies

Brew Crew 5, Phils 4
Phils 3, Brew Crew 1
Phils 6, Buccos 5
Phils 8, Buccos 4
Buccos 5, Phils 1

Record 14 wins, 12 losses

Well, it didn't happen until games 23, 24 and 25 but the Phils finally strung together more than 2 consecutive wins for the first time this season. I am not certain but I am comfortable positing anyway, that in order to finish ahead of everyone else, you need to have several streaks of 5 or more wins. That is what gives a team the 20 or 22 game cushion between 91 or 92 wins and 71 or 70 losses. In most years, that record puts you in the money. Of course, last year - the year of the outlier which gave us the improbable September runs by the Phils and Rocks - threw such convention out the window.

Fact is, the team is starting to play like a division favorite. They went on the road and took a two game series from last year's party poopers, the Rockies and then split with every one's perennial team on the cusp - Milwaukee. Finally, as the order of the universe dictates, the Phils took 2 of 3 from their Keystone brethren in baseball's best (new) park, PNC.

The flip side to this good feeling about the week that was is that something is amiss with Brett Myers. Seems he's lost velocity and is now throwing his fastball in the mid- to high-80s which makes it barely distinguishable from his off-speed stuff. Brett leads all major league pitchers with 10 home runs surrendered. In fairness, he is a power/flyball pitcher toiling away in a park with Pony League dimensions but there is no doubt he isn't blowing anyone away at this point. Apparently, the big dispute is whether Brett should participate it the "long toss" which sounds more like a church picnic event than a legitimate major league pitcher's maintenance workout. Brett says it's unnecessary while pitching coach Rich Dubee disagrees. There seems to be some issue with workout routines now that he is back again as a starter. Whatever the case, Brett must return to form if there is any chance the Phils could repeat as NL East Division champions.

On the injury front, Victorino and Rollins are returning soon which will hopefully make this offense truly offensive. The way these cats swing, they need the top of the order on base to force pitchers to throw strikes because the good Lord knows, they'll be hacking regardless of pitch location.

With April almost in the books, the Phils will finish with at least a .500 record for the first time since '03. Given the injuries and slow start out of the gate from their division rivals, that's acceptable.


Nick said...

Can anyone tell me why my paragraph breaks don't show up in the published post?

Quite annoying, isn't it?

Whitney said...

I think it's fixed now...