The Phillies walked into Wrigley field yesterday having just suffered one of the worst losses in their history. The series sweep by the Dodgers, which included the back-to-back-to-back home runs in the 9th on Saturday, brought the Phillies nation back into paralysis. We just got embarrassed by the Dodgers and now we have to face the Cubs? In Wrigley? The least the MLB scheduler could have done is kissed us first before he fucked us. I thought the Cubbies were going to stomp us last night. Pulverized us into an oblivion so deep we may never return from. The idiot columnists at the Daily News and the Inquirer had their fingers hovering above publish button with their “See I told you,” articles about Vince Velasquez being demoted to bullpen. Sooorey! This team came to play ball.
I love this Phillies team this season. I can’t stress it enough. Our wacky manager did his best to prevent any type of momentum they had going for them this weekend by changing the lineup around, but I’ll just add that complaint to my back log. Let’s stick to the present because that is what is most important. Velasquez was decent last. I’ll give his start a B-. The 37 pitch, 4th inning with a 7-0 lead was just so unneccesary. The extra stress he added to himself and the game in general again showed his vast inexperience. Take for example this 0-2 pitch to Javy Baez over the middle of the plate that Javy cranked to right center for the only ER by Vince in the game.
First and foremost, why is Rupp even set up there on an 0-2 pitch? Nonetheless, Vinny knows never to miss IN on an 0-2 pitch and that’s exactly what he did. This marks the 9th home run given up an 0-2 count, the 16th on a two-strike count and the 37th overall, which is the 2nd highest mark in baseball. For comparative purposes, the Detroit Tigers, who by far have the worst pitching staff in all of baseball, have allowed just 2 HR on an 0-2 count while holding opponents to .407 OPS. Opponents have a .703 OPS vs. the Phillies in that same split! I don’t know if that is poor coaching, pitch calling or lack of a secondary pitches, but that is just deplorable and needs to be addressed. Along with the closer situation and the bullpen in general, Bob McClure needs to get a handle of things with his staff.
It wouldn’t be a Tbyrd blog without discussing my favorite topic, Aaron Altherr. According to Matt Breen of Philly dot com, Pete Mackanin had the quote of the night about Altherr saying, “He is making things difficult,” in regards to keeping him in the lineup when Howie Kendrick eventually returns. HA, making it difficult?! I know he is very political when he speaks to the media, as he should be, but I am still displeased by him even questioning it. The Phillies are now 6-1 when he bats 2nd and plays LF. He is the perfect compliment to Cesar and Odubel, while Michael Saunders, Maikel Franco and even Tommy Joseph have seen significant jumps to their OPS since Altherr became a fixture in the lineup on April 19. Freddy Galvis, who homered last night to extend his hitting streak the 13, has seen the biggest boost in that time with an OPS well over 1.000. Altherr is 26, healthy, and on the verge of breaking out. He is the x-factor. Please, do not fuck this up Pete.
While the offense is improving, we all know the bullpen had a bad month. However, I can list a number of teams, including two within our division who had worst months. Bullpen ERA’s are up league-wide by almost half a run compared to April numbers last year. Offenses have been exploding putting up numbers we haven’t seen since the early 2000s. That bubble will eventually burst and the Phillies, with the extremely talented and experienced bullpen they have will start to put up the numbers we know they can.
Going to be another cold one tonight in the Windy City. Not as damp, but still not the May weather we want. Hellickson will do his thing, but let’s see what this lineup can do vs. Lester who has a career 1.46 ERA in 8 starts against the Phillies.