Time for a quick Monday morning rundown of what's going right and what's going wrong for the 9-8 Philadelphia Phillies.
Lefty relief OK: amazing to think a team like San Diego has no lefties on their roster when the Phillies have three in their bullpen alone, plus, the Phillies are 33 games away from getting J.C. Romero back. One of the biggest concerns this spring was finding a way bridge the gap to Romero, and so far, Scott Eyre has done the job; in seven games, he hasn't allowed a hit or a walk. Jack Taschner and J.A. Happ haven't been used situationally because of all the garbage innings, but they've been up to task.
Fewer strikeouts: After 17 games a year ago, Ryan Howard was hitting .197/.342/.426 with 23 strikeouts and getting worse. After 17 games in 2009, he's at .290/.364/.522, with less homers, but fewer strikeouts (18). Howard is a big reason why the Phillies have been wrung up only 98 times, the fewest in baseball. Jayson Werth is another reason, striking out just nine times in 60 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.
Utley fine: Chase Utley's initial timetable would have had him back on the field at the end of May. For April, he's hitting .317/.434/.571 with five homers, a pair of steals and fine glovework. I'd mention MVP, but too many others have had better starts, including Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Adrien Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran.
Rollins benched again: Sitting out for a second-consecutive Sunday, there's growing concern over J-Roll's swing. Charlie Manuel says it's a matter of timing.
Catchers: The weakest area on the team finds Carlos Ruiz rehabbing in Triple-A and Chris Coste hitting .182/.270/.303 with nine strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. Coste's dumb decision to throw to second instead of take the sure out on a bunt yesterday could have been costly. Lou Marson looks promising, but is likely headed to Triple-A for more seasoning.
Short starts: This weekend saw some improvements, but the starting staff needs to go deeper consistently and start preserving the bullpen. Fewer longballs would help.