Everybody Hits

Curb your enthusiasm. It’s just the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Still, it’s hard not to feel good about the way the Phillies have opened up in April. Four games, 52 hits. The only two Phillies who haven’t appeared ready to hit were Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino.

Ibanez broke out tonight against the Astros, collecting three hits, three rib-eyes and a walk in five at-bats. Victorino was the only regular who failed to collect a hit in the Phillies’ 8-0 win in the series opener in Houston. Jimmy Rollins continued to draw walks — his two tonight give him six on the season. Placido Polanco and Chase Utley still have not struck out yet this season. Polanco had four hits and two RBI in five at-bats while Utley had two hits (including his first home run), a walk and 2 RBI.

Even the pitchers — the crack in the Phillies’ armor — have thrown well in the first four games. While starter J.A. Happ wasn’t economic with his pitches tonight, he was effective enough to avoid damage and pitched into the sixth inning without allowing a run. David Herndon, a Rule-5 pick from the L.A. Angels, continued to impress with two shut-out innings of relief including a bail-out of Happ in the sixth. Overall, Phillies relievers have compiled a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings so far this season.

As mentioned previously, though, curb your enthusiasm. There is going to be a lot of regression especially as the Phillies play more competitive teams in the second half of April. Last year, among National League teams, the Astros ranked 14th in runs scored per game and 12th in runs allowed. The Nationals had a mediocre offense but the absolute worst pitching staff in the league last year. The Phillies have the Astros for two more games and then the Nationals again for three for the home opener at Citizens Bank Park starting April 12.

Old Man Moyer will get the start tomorrow tonight. In doing so, he will become the seventh pitcher to play in four different decades (per Tom McCarthy during tonight’s broadcast).

Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.

BDD: Cliff Lee: A Love Story

At Baseball Daily Digest, I investigate the hype surrounding Cliff Lee following the trade that brought him to Seattle.

The inclinations of Schilling, Rollins, and scores of Phillies fans about Lee’s skill is built on a solid foundation, even if they do tend to exaggerate. However, the Phillies’ ability to retain Lee would have come at the cost of a weak Minor League system. Furthermore, even the Major League team in 2011 and beyond may have been weaker because GM Ruben Amaro may not have been able to sign then arbitration-eligible Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz to multi-year deals. And the organization may not have been able to sign Roy Halladay to an extension to keep him in Philadelphia until at least 2013.

Friday’s fantasy baseball article is up at Baseball Prospectus. There, you’ll find out three pitchers who I think are underrated and could help your team this year.