Middling starters like Yorman Bazardo have looked like world-beaters against the Phillies’ hitters lately. A dearth of capable reservists and an unnecessarily taxing workload implemented by Charlie Manuel may be coming to a head.
"Ragged" is a great way to describe the Phillies’ play in the second half of September. They’re 5-6 since sweeping the Nationals, about the time everyone started counting down the magic number, which has been moving at glacial speeds. Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins ... these players look terribly tired to me, all high-motor players who rarely get a break. (That makes what Ryan Howard has done in September even more incredible).
It’s unfair to pin the blame squarely on Manuel, a soft players’ manager reluctant to sit his competitive core. His hands have also been tied by a very weak bench. Thank goodness the Tribe kicked in Ben Francisco, who has moved ahead of Greg Dobbs as the top reservist. The versitile outfielder has been called into starting duty several times at all three outfield positions. Besides Francisco, the depth chart reveals a huge drop at every position, particularly in the middle infield, which needed to be a greater priority this winter, and even behind the plate. The loss of Carlos Ruiz to injury has had a noticeable effect on their production.