Short starts, high ERAs, home runs and blown saves have the Phillies' pitching staff reeling. There's a chance for recovery, but Chan Ho Park and an overworked pen must deliver today.
Think back to 2008 and recall only one or two occasions when the rotation and bullpen were as out of sync as they are today. But what made last season so unique was their ability to recover quickly. When they needed a quality start, they got it, and when they needed the bullpen to put in overtime, or for someone to step up, as Ryan Madson did in September, they got that, too.
The Phillies will be searching for some of that resiliency today. For the first week, the bullpen held the team together behind terrible starting pitching, but today, inconsistency has infected all parts of the pitching staff. The Phillies have the highest ERA in baseball at 7.16, and while the starting ERA has improved from the first week, the bullpen has suffered a handful of deflating losses and have an ERA of 6.29.
It may not be as doom and gloom as it sounds. Bad luck has played a part in the early struggles. They've issued the second-fewest free passes in baseball with 33, and in terms of strikeouts, they're middle of the pack. Add them together, and believe it or not, the Phils have the second-best K/BB ratio in baseball at 2.58. The underlying problem is a league-high 23 home runs, the result of just too many mistakes out over the plate.
Recovery might be around the corner, but they need to pitch smarter and do what they can to keep the ball down. Park's (0-0, 10.38) first start was as ugly as any this season, lasting just 3 1-3 innings in a cold day in Denver last Sunday. The term "must win" gets tossed around a lot, but circumstances make today's game very important indeed. They need innings from Park. The Phillies don't know how much they can get out of Madson and Brad Lidge; both have been taxed lately and could use a mental health day for certain. A win would also open the door for a series split tomorrow and snap a three-game skid.
On the other side, rookie Josh Geer goes for San Diego. We'll have lineups and more details closer to game time. We'll keep the chat right here. Have a great Sunday.