The Phils lost 18 players to the disabled list in 2010 and finished with baseball’s best record. The injury setbacks continued into ’11, yet they’re outpacing last-year’s first-half win total by 10 wins. (US Presswire)
Thirteen Phillies have missed time with injury, leading to a constant state of flux in the bottom of the rotation (Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt), the back of the bullpen (Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson), second base (Chase Utley) and catcher (Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider). The team’s best overall performer, Shane Victorino, has also been sidelined.
Last season, they plugged holes at shortstop and at first through minor league free agents (Wilson Valdez) and waiver deadline moves (Mike Sweeney). At the end of 2010, the final tally revealed that the Phils had lost $20 million worth of service time to the disabled list. It will be a similar figure in 2011.
This season, the tale has been told through young, unheralded pitching, a story that played out in Wednesday’s memorable win. (Vance Worley to Mike Stutes to Antonio Bastardo). In the court of public opinion, in trade publications like Baseball America and on specialty sites like Beerleaguer, for example, expectations were low. All were seen as mid-level prospects with fringe Major League ability. Yet one always got a sense the Phils were playing it close to the vest, with Bastardo in particular. Moving Stutes from the rotation to the bullpen before the 2010 season instantly turned him into a viable asset. Meanwhile, better conditioning has helped Worley, but his mental toughness was on display Wednesday night, daring the league’s best offense with 82 strikes in 116 pitches.