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Monday, April 19, 2010

Phils Tough to Judge So Far

Before Phillies fans call their ticket broker to try to score World Series tickets, everyone might want to take a deep breath. I’m not panicking over their first series loss of the season, but the idea that this team can go into cruise control until late October is being a bit overstated.

I’m not suggesting that the casual fan needs to be scouring ESPN's baseball section hoping to discover that Rueben Amaro Jr. is trying to pull off a blockbuster trade, but there are some reasons for concern. First and foremost, the Phillies only have a 3-man starting rotation at the moment, and that might be an optimistic view with the news that J.A. Happ could miss his next start. I’ve seen enough of Kyle Kendrick to last the season (if not the rest of his career), and Jamie Moyer is showing his age far too often.

Granted, Joe Blanton’s imminent return from injury should solve the Kendrick problem. But a bigger problem could be that the Phillies haven’t had their closer on the mound yet due to injury. Two years ago Brad Lidge was lights out. Since then he’s been the Phillies best option at closer, which isn’t necessarily a complement. At this point, no Phillies fans are (or will be) comfortable when Lidge steps out of the bullpen, and haven’t been since possibly before the ’07 World Series.

There’s an overwhelming confidence that this team is going to hit, and there’s plenty of good reason for that. But it shouldn’t have anything to do with their average runs scored through their first three series. Just like there’s no reason to panic after they only scored 1 run against the Marlins over the weekend, beating up on the Nationals and Astros in the first three series is next to meaningless as a barometer of how good the Phillies are.

The Phils have a road trip starting tomorrow in which they face Atlanta and San Francisco with Arizona sandwiched in-between. All three teams have good to extremely good pitchers.

By the time the Phillies get back to Philadelphia, we’ll start to have an idea if we need to start worrying about what we have planned for late October.

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