Last night’s 8-6 win established a template for how the Phillies need to win ballgames.
Starting pitching is at its weakest point in years, but when the offense gets it going, and defenders like Aaron Rowand take charge, the Phillies can hang in there.
Hang in and hover. That’s the best the Phillies can hope for until the Phillies can find an answer for the starting rotation. Answers could come in a block-buster deal, or in a small trade for a veteran pitcher throwing for a struggling club. Don’t be surprised if GM Pat Gillick pulls off a small deal for a “buy low” American League starting pitcher, for example, any one of the starting pitchers from the Orioles (Erik Bedard, Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen have all struggled).
Those aren’t great answers either, but neither is Ryan Madson. Madson is a temporary answer and was hit hard again last night. His command failed him once again, and when he was forced to come over the plate, LA’s young hitters hit everything cleanly.
With Mad Dog, it's not mental like it is with Gavin Floyd (there is also a report that Floyd is tipping pitches), and it isn't really command, either. Madson doesn't have the pitches to make it as a starter. Hitters will figure him out. Last night, 21-year-old rookies were cranking balls out of Dodger Stadium. Everything those hitters hit in that 5th inning was crushed. That's because they know what's coming.
Madson throws a nothing curve he can't control and a nothing fastball. Good change. It’s not enough for the starting rotation. It shows up better in the bullpen.
Eude Brito, who pitches this afternoon against Brad Penny (4:05 p.m. EST), actually becomes a pretty big piece to this puzzle. But until that puzzle is solved, the offense and defense must carry them.
After a 4-for-4 night, Chase Utley is now hitting .327. I always thought by the end of his career, Utley will be known best for great hitting, not necessarily clutch hitting or RBIs. Right now, he's giving the Phillies everything - great hitting, clutch hitting, power, RBIs, great baserunning and very good defense.
He's the total package. Is there any doubt he's among the 10-best players in baseball?