Today, with the bases loaded, 2 outs and Ryan “Steroids” Braun at the plate, friggin’ Aaron “I hang ‘em, you bang ‘em” Harang gave up a grand slam home run. The Brewers were them up 0-6 by the 5th inning. And this is a perfect example of how bad Phillies pitching has been.
Sure, the Phillies had the best record in baseball coming out of the All-Star break up until about a week ago. Well, they have now returned to earth, mostly thanks to crapping pitching. After sweeping the Padres last weekend, the Phillies lost 2 of 3 to the Diamondbacks and will now get swept by the Brewers (they are losing 0-6 in the 7th as of the time I post this). Aaron Harang is a large part of the problem, with a 7.75 ERA in his last 7 games prior to today’s game.
But he is not the only one. Jerome Williams, although better his last few starts, still has a 6.00 ERA in his last 15 games. David Buchanan was finally sent down to the minors with a 9.00 ERA, also in his last 15 games. After allowing 25 earned runs in 3 games, I am not even sure he belongs in the minors; perhaps bagging groceries is in his future? Rounding out the starting pitching nightmare are Aaron Nola and Adam Morgan, who have been okay, as far as rookies go.
A few guys in the bullpen look awful as well. Justin DeFratus is pitching himself back to the minors with an 8.68 ERA in 7 games. Adam Loewen has a 15.43 ERA in his first two appearances for the Phillies, prior to today. Luckily, the rest of the pen has been ok, but with all the starters leaving games early, that may change due to exhaustion. And while the offense is still racking up hits, they are suddenly having trouble scoring those runners. The bad starting pitching has put more stress on the hitters and they are shrinking under the pressure, which is not unusual for a young team.
But what really has me stressed out is the impending departure of my favorite player, Chase Utley. Nothing is certain yet, but it does look like a lot of teams are bidding on him since he cleared waivers. Since coming off the disabled list, Utley is batting .500 with 5 doubles, a homer and 5 RBI in 26 at-bats, proving he is healthy again and upping his trade value. Sure, trading him is the right thing to do so he will have a shot at another championship, but it doesn’t make it suck any less. I have been admiring Utley for 13 years; this team will not be the same without him. But for now, he is still here…stayed tuned!
The Phillies are off on Monday and then play two games against the Blue Jays starting on Tuesday. Game time is 7:05pm.
Cliff Lee is hoping that the third time for rehab is a charm; more likely, it will be three strikes and he is out. Lee has had a torn common flexor tendon since last May, although prior reports on that called it a “strain,” which I am guessing was never the case. Tears generally do not heal themselves; it can happen, but it is highly unlikely, especially on the elbow. So this third attempt at rehab is probably a waste of time and energy.
I feel bad for Lee. He obviously wants to pitch again, but then why did he not have the surgery in the first place? He at least could have been ready for this year. Now, that chance is gone. Of course, no one wants to have surgery, so I understand to some extent. I guess there is no right or wrong answer, but personally, I’d have had it fixed last year.
I was there for Lee’s first pitch as a Phillie on 7/31/09 in San Francisco. And now it looks like I may have seen his last pitch. I suppose a miracle could occur, but I am not holding my breath. It is a very sad day. Not that I expect the Phillies to do very well this year, but at least Lee was entertaining to watch. He gave fans something to look forward to on an otherwise bland and rebuilding team.
So who is left to pitch besides Cole Hamels and Jerome Williams? The newly signed Aaron Harang has back issues, so I am not optimistic about him. And Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is looking like a $12 million dollar bust. He has a nice fastball, but lacks control. Speed is of no use if he doesn’t know how to use it. I am rooting for Chad Billingsley to make the rotation in late April, but coming off two elbow surgeries, there is no telling what will happen. There are a lot of young arms like David Buchanan and Jonathan Pettibone who may make the cut.
Now we just wait and see. In the meantime, I wish Cliff Lee the best and hope he will get his miracle.