The Phillies drop to last place in the NL East after losing a game they had almost no shot to win, falling to the Braves 9-1 last night.
John Smoltz (9-5, 2.68 ERA) said afterward he didn’t have his greatest stuff, going six innings, allowing five hits and one earned run. But the effort was plenty to beat Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.96 ERA), who probably pitched himself out of the starting rotation, lasting just four innings, giving up nine hits, two walks and a home run for a total of four earned runs.
I said earlier in the week that if Padilla struggled in this start, and Gavin Floyd pitched well his next start in Scranton, the Phils should recall the 22-year-old right-hander and send Padilla to the pen. Last night, Floyd went six innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs while striking out six for the Red Barons. In his previous start, Floyd went eight innings, allowing two earned runs and six strikeouts.
Ed Wade indicated he’d like to see Floyd make another start before considering it. Indeed, Floyd has struggled since his brief call-up in April, but has straightened it out lately. Scouts have pointed to a loss of command in his fastball and decreased potency of his breaking pitch.
Many believed Floyd would be a staple in the rotation at this point in the season, and boy could they use his services. Instead of dealing for a high-priced arm, the ideal solution is to turn to your farm system, just as the Braves, Twins and A’s have done for years and years with great success.
As for Padilla, he hasn’t been the same all season, and I doubt we’ll ever see the same pitcher that was good enough to be an all-star in 2002.
"He's probably very frustrated," catcher Mike Lieberthal said to mlb.com. "I don't know how healthy he is, but his location and his velocity didn't seem like it was there tonight. He's been such a dominant pitcher before, so everybody is waiting for him to get his stuff back."
If Padilla is replaced, it’s likely Ryan Madson will get the call, with Tim Worrell, recently cleared from the DL, taking his spot in the bullpen.
In any event, plenty of pitcher shuffling is bound to occur these next few days as the Phils scramble to stop this sinking ship. A trade is far from out of the question, but holding on to young players such as Floyd and Ryan Howard is highly advisable.
They’re 8.5 out of first, not insurmountable by any means, but history clearly isn’t on their side.
Abreu and Burrell
You can’t win without scoring runs, and the team’s leading RBI men, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell, are struggling to get it done, a trend that’s continued since the 12-1 home stand. In particular, Burrell has looked downright 2003-ish since the Mariners series, and struck out four times last night in going 0-4.
After an all-star worthy first half, the Bat’s OPS is down to about .890. He’ll hope to get it going today at Citizen’s Bank Park, where his OPS is .300 points higher than it is on the road. (1.035 to .736).
Jim Thome to the DL
And this team wonders why fans get pissed.
The team placed Jim Thome on the 15-day DL yesterday for elbow tendonitis, a problem that existed for at least a month.
The struggling first baseman received a cortisone shot a few weeks ago that provided temporary relief, but he took a turn for the worse 10 days ago, he said.
In those 10 games, the team has played itself out of contention, thanks in large to a). starting pitching, b). Jim Thome. According to Thome, the pain has been severe.
"I had a hard time picking my arm up today," said Thome Friday. "It hurt that bad. I've had good and bad days. It's affected my throwing, but gradually started to get into my hitting."
While Thome and the team expected elbow tendonitis to just—poof—clear up, a 100 percent healthy replacement was brutalizing pitchers in Scranton. Howard was called up yesterday afternoon by didn’t arrive in Philadelphia until midway through the game.
Here’s my take: It’s hard enough watching Thome strikeout or hit into the shift every at bat, but when he refuses to say enough’s enough, knowing Howard is ready and waiting, I take major issue as a fan, and you should, too. Thome’s been advertised as this great team professional, but it’s hard to see it with this selfish choice.
Once again, Thome must be held accountable, and I’m tired of writing it again and again. Some of the onus also falls on Charlie Manuel for letting this go on far too long.
To put it bluntly, signing Thome is turning into one of the worst decisions the Phils ever made. He’s one dimensional, expensive, old, and now nursing multiple injuries that could cripple the rest of his career.