A Weekend in NY is Just What the Doctor Ordered
Sometimes all it takes is a weekend getaway to New York to answer questions and quiet the critics. Cole Hamels first win of the season capped off a weekend sweep of the Mets in which the phillies offense woke up and their middle relief pitching showed what they're capable of and gained some much needed confidence.
The starting pitching has been as good as advertised, but there were many questions entering this weekend, many targeted towards the lineup and the lack of production. But over the three game winning streak, Ryan Howard looked like the player of old, with home run bombs and clutch hits when his team needed him the most. Rollins is starting to set the table at the top of the lineup, Utley is playing at an MVP level, and Michael Young continues to be mister consistency. This was the team I expected to see, with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.
With games against Cleveland and Miami coming up, this is an important stretch for the phillies in this early part of the season. While Philadelphia was able to take all three from the Mets, the once red hot Braves dropped three in a row which brought the Phils back to within 4 1/2 games of the NL East lead.
Carlos Ruiz returned to the lineup Sunday and will certainly help bring an ease to the pitching staff, but also help bring depth to a lineup that was in desperate need. This team has new players and guys who are starting everyday at the big league level for the first time. All of that takes time to get comfortable, but if this weekend was any indication of what's to come and what's possible with this team, this could be a team that isn't just fighting for a second wild card spot at the end of the year, but could very well be fighting for the NL East Division.
Was this weekend the exception or the rule for this 2013 Phillies team? If this group stays healthy, they have the pieces in place to be a very scary team moving forward. But only time will tell.