It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies. On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games. An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.
That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow. As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.
Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs. Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings. However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.
The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record. Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).
While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.
The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season. They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.
The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179. He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out. Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.
Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing. He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off. Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th. He has batted .182 since that time.
But a few players are not to blame. The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once. If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy? Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson. Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable. Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.
While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution. However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them. Because the Phillies have few other options.
Their payroll is maxed out. The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees. So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options. Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.
Then again, it is only April. The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff. But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.
So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April. Its only April…”
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography