The Phils make a statement in an impressive road series win in Los Angeles. The offense played aggressive the first two games, before running into a tough left-hander in Odalis Perez last night.
Phillies vs. LHP
The Phils have been poor against quality southpaws since the all-star break. Here’s a breakdown of the each game against a LH starter, going back a few games before the break to July 7 against Pittsburgh rookie Zack Duke:
Z. Duke (2-1 loss)
D. Willis (8-4 win)
S. Olsen (10-5 win)
J. Francis (9-2 loss)
Andy Pettitte (7-1 loss)
C. Campuano (8-2 win)
O. Perez (1-0 loss, 5-1 loss)
That’s only a handful of chances, especially lately. Compounding matters is they’re peppered throughout the schedule at an even clip, about one per series or every-other series. It’s an abrupt adjustment for a team used to seeing RHP.
Bottom line, I’d never bet on the Phillies against a half-decent lefty, and that was Odalis Perez last night.
As a result of the infrequency, a guy like Jason Michaels has become the invisible player, logging just 54 at bats since the break. I would agree Michaels is better part-time, but he’s more of a freelancer lately. He went 1-4 last night, his contribution to this team becoming increasingly insignificant. The bad news for J-Mike is they'll face all RHP against San Diego, beginning tonight against Jake Peavy.
Mike Lieberthal loves to hit at Chavez Ravine and he supplied the only offense last night, an RBI double in the second that scored Chase Utley. Lieby finished the series 5-10.
Charlie Manuel elected to start Ryan Howard despite his .150 BA against left-handers headed into the game. The hero in Wednesday night’s win had a tough encore, going 0-3 with three strikeouts, lowering his average to .135.
As I discussed yesterday, giving Tomas Perez a start at first would have been a wise strategy. He’s batting .317 against LHP, and has Odalis in his book (.286 lifetime, 1 homer).
Going forward into San Diego, the team can feel confident in an offense that finally clicked on the road. Offense, not starting pitching, has been their biggest inconsistency, and the team was able to exorcise some of their demons this series.
Two out of three keeps them right in the hunt, dropping a game yesterday, but remaining just 2.5 games back of Houston. The Astros are clearly the team to watch. I don’t see any way the Phils can catch Atlanta.
Thome and Howard
I tend to believe Jim Thome’s accruing injuries will turn the former home-run champ into a shadow of his former self the rest of his career. His body is broken, and the tone he once had is slowly melting away.
As for the offseason, it's too early to predict how things will pan out regarding a trade. Between now and the winter meetings, everything will change and hype will grow.
If Thome returns to 100 percent after rehab, who knows? He could become next year's Sammy Sosa of the winter meetings - a last-minute catch for a team like Baltimore, Detroit, or Chicago or some surprise buyer like that. Moving him depends on whether he waives his no trade clause, and the Phils will most certainly be forced to eat some contract.
If he’s healthy, and if he green lights it, one thing is clear: American League GMs will call.
As for the Phils, I’d stick with the cheap player on the rise, and use those savings to invest in a starter. To me, it’s an easy choice, if only $40-odd million wasn't standing in the way.