Ah, yes. The thrill of victory, and the agony of reading about Ryan Howard's slump the next day. Beerleaguer is happy to oblige.
When putting his struggles into perspective, it helps to know who Ryan Howard is not. He’s not Jimmy Rollins, meaning he’s not going produce game in and game out. No. He’s going to put three in the seats one series and go 1-12 the next. He isn’t going to produce in April. There’s enough evidence to support it now. His slugging percentage in April is over .150 points lower than his career average. Park factors must be considered. For the first few weeks, no park – including Citizens Bank Park – plays to Howard’s strengths. Those moon-shots that carry in August get knocked down in April.
Strikeouts may not be any worse than ground outs or pop outs in the eyes of statisticians, but they definitely leave deeper cuts in the eyes of fans, and also appear to take a toll on the big man. Last night featured huge moments from Chris Snelling, Pat Burrell and Pedro Feliz, and Howard’s futile strikeout in the ninth was smack in the middle of all the heroics. Everyone, including Howard, expects more.
The good news is that for every Howard slump, we’ve witnessed a full recovery. I’d like to see it happen soon. He’s only had one multi-hit game – back on April 3 – and only six RBIs total. Unfortunately, he’s a big reason why they’re only 7-7. With Rollins and Shane Victorino hobbled, the term "time to step up" is apt for the Phillies slumping clean-up man.