Last night’s loss capped two months of sub-.500 baseball, exposed shortcomings against left-handed pitching and revealed widespread one-dimensionality. Bob Ford of the Inquirer and Marcus Hayes of the Daily News picked up on it, too.
No need to rewrite what’s already been written, or to ponder the first two months of the season. They've unfolded the same exact way as every April and May since starting this site. In the words of Bob Ford, "the dividing line between winning and losing is always frighteningly narrow." The reason why is the dividing line between their best and worst players is so severe, and the manager isn’t making the best of what he has, either.
Imagine what it’s like having a bullpen that’s up to snuff. Need help? Take a look at the division leaders. They all have good ones, as do many of the teams nipping at their heels: San Diego, Detroit, Minnesota. Even teams like Seattle have stayed in the hunt thanks in large to back-end relief. We’re talking teams with two, maybe three pitchers who can slam the door consistently. That’s what you need to win. At present, the Phils have nobody who even comes close.
It’s the main reason the Phillies are playing losing baseball, but not he only reason. As Hayes reports, they’re 3-10 in one-run games. That’s almost entirely on the bullpen, which was not addressed in the offseason. The rest is a grab bag of poor managing and lapses in execution.
At bat, how many regulars shouldn’t be regulars? On any given night, two, three, sometimes four: Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms, Abraham Nunez. You can make arguments for or against Shane Victorino, and increasingly, Pat Burrell. They aren’t complete players, at least at their regular positions. In late innings, and because they’re carrying 12 pitchers, they constantly run out of players.
The team is falling just under the 85-88 win track from the last two seasons, and we know where those roads led. This season, the competition appears stronger, and the team, sinking with all the dead weight, may actually be weaker.
What are they going to do about this?