Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Oy vey!

Okay, so where do I start? When I last wrote, the Phillies were preparing to embark on the "neverending" trip -- 13 games, 13 days. Since then...I'd say that the wheels fell off, but I am not sure that they were on to begin with.

The good news: The Phillies are still in a tie for the NL Wild Card lead.

The bad news: That's only because the Marlins have been as bad as the Phillies. And everyone else is creeping forward.

Actually, creeping isn't the right word...flat-out rushing is more like it, which is really sad since the other competitors are all playing around .500 baseball. When I left you last week, the Phillies and Marlins were in a dogfight, and everyone else was fighting to stay within a handful of games. Since then, it's become a seven-team race:

TeamRecord since 8/19Games gained in standings

No one could actually argue that Arizona, Chicago, Montreal, St. Louis, or Los Angeles are setting the world on fire. But the Phillies and Marlins are doing all they can to hand the playoff spot to someone else. Things have gotten so bad for the Phillies in the last week that last night's game could have been seen coming.

I flipped on the game last night in the bottom of the first -- the first game that I have had time to watch in the last week. The Phillies jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, and slowly increased that lead to 8-0. You would think that with an 8-0 lead, Padilla on the mound, and the strong bullpen, an 8-run lead was safe. But when the Expos woke up and put a couple runs on the board, I just had this gut feeling that the bottom was going to fall out. And slowly but did. 14-10 Expos win. And the Phillies fall to 1-7 on the road trip.

It appears to be the pitching that has fallen off a cliff in the last week. In the five-game winning streak to end the homestand, the Phillies gave up 19 runs in those five games. They then gave up 21 to the Brewers -- the Brewers! -- in a three-game Milwaukee sweep. They have given up 26 to the Expos in the first two games of this four-game series. Good God...

The numbers have slowly been creeping up all month long. Kevin Millwood has actually been decent in the month of August; in his five starts this month, he has allowed 24 hits in 36 innings, has a 1.00 WHIP, and a 3.00 ERA. But he is only 2-2 in those five starts. It's the other three stooges we have to look at.

Vicente Padilla has allowed 34 hits and 11 walks in 27 2/3 innings in five August starts (1-1 record). His WHIP is 1.63 and his ERA is 5.20 -- both numbers significantly higher than his 1.28 and 3.92 marks on the season. He actually had a pretty good outing last night before being pulled (too early, maybe?) and handing things over to the bullpen.

Brett Myers is -- somehow or another -- 2-1 in his four August starts despite the following trash: 23 innings, 31 hits, 13 walks, 1.91 WHIP, 5.48 ERA. Yech. You wonder if he may be hitting a wall in his first full major league season. Myers is up to 162 innings pitched on the year, and has seen his numbers skyrocket this month. Some statistical perspective: he has allowed 19% of his hits, 21% of his runs, and 23% of his walks in just 14% of his seasons's innings this month. His ERA has gone from 3.63 to 3.89 over these four starts.

But the main culpret is the All-Star of the bunch, Randy Wolf. Wolf cruised into the All-Star game at 10-4, with a 3.31 ERA and seemed very worthy of the selection. Since then: 2-5 with a 6.60 ERA. *gulp* But it gets worse. In August, Wolfie is 1-4 in five starts with a 10.17 ERA. He has given up 30 hits, 26 earned runs, and 17 walks in just 23 innings. Are you kidding me?!? In these five starts, he has a 2.04 WHIP. Control issues, anyone?

What was the Phillies strength in the first four months of the season has become it's big-time weakness. And the bullpen hasn't helped. In the last week, the bullpen has given us this array of numbers:

Williams3 1/3644.4003.0010.80
Cormier4 1/3533.2941.856.23
Silva8 961.2901.254.50

Terry Adams and *gulp* Jose Mesa *gulp* were spared from this chart because they haven't been half-bad. But you might as well put kerosene on the mound instead of any of these guys'd get the same result.

Yet, through all of this, the Phillies still have their grasp on the Wild Card. But things need to turn around...a few more days like the last week, and they could find themselves looking up at half-a-dozen teams...and quickly.

More carnage...ummm, baseball? the Big O tonight.