Three Things to Look at During the Phillies’ 3-7 start
Here are three things to keep in mind as the Phillies continue their road trip with this series in Washington, followed by three in New York against the Mets.
1. This bullpen isn’t good enough.
The Phillies are just 10 games into the season and have already changed closers. The bullpen coughed up leads on Friday against Washington, on Monday against the Mets and a four run lead in Cincinnati. Three of their seven losses already have been coughed up by a leaky bullpen, in every case, a reliever was on the mound when the lead switched.
Many thought the bullpen would be better, with the additions of Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek to go along with Hector Neris. The bullpen has a couple of young promising arms, like Edubray Ramos and Joely Rodriguez, but so far the it looks like the Phillies bullpen is still going to be an adventure each and every night.
2. The starting pitchers.
When a team’s bullpen is struggling like Philadelphia’s is right now, the club needs its starting pitchers to go a little deeper to cut down on the bullpen exposure. And while both Jeremy Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff have been very good and Aaron Nola has been solid, the Phillies still have just three wins after 10 games. Clay Buchholz and Vincent Velasquez both failed to get through six innings in their combined four starts.
Pitching deeper into games with obviously help the Phillies bullpen out that can handle three innings of work, and preferably two, getting the ball to Neris in the eighth. Neris has been outstanding, giving up just two hits and no runs over five appearances. If the Phillies’ starters can hand the ball off to him in the eighth, and he can then give way to closer Benoit in the ninth, that’s the best formula for winning.
3. The lineup.
The Phillies top of the lineup have done a good job of setting the table, Cesar Hernandez, Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera have 35 hits in 114 at-bats, a .307 average. However, the production behind them is why the team has struggled to consistently score runs. Tommy Joseph is hitting just .143, free-agent pick-up Michael Saunders is at .235 and maybe the most disappointing of the bunch is Maikel Franco sitting at .216.
Right now the middle-of-the-order production is hurting the team, but there really isn't too much they can do to shake things up on the currently big league roster.