The Phillies swept the Mets! That’s really cool! Even in a season that’s been tinged with a bit of malaise out of the gate, taking a series like that in New York is pleasing, without fail. Some players – Halladay, Hamels, Brown – are showing some signs of turnaround, albeit conditional turnarounds. Chase Utley is still slugging over .500. Carlos Ruiz is back! Maybe things are looking up!
Or maybe I’m just getting ahead of myself. Whatever, this was a good week if you pretend that Pittsburgh series never happened.
To the 10!
10. The Break-Up
The Phils had a spot of trouble scoring runs, so Charlie Manuel decided to split Utley and Ryan Howard up, shifting Chase to second in his batting order. Utley went 4-for-14 with a home run when starting out in the two-spot, while Howard went 5-for-16 with two homers, standing pat in his customary clean-up position.
That’s more a summary of what happened than an indication of anything. Apropos of nothing, Utley entered Tuesday on a five-game hitting streak that saw each of his triple slash stats fall from where they were when the streak started.
This is kinda massive, but I’m leaving it full-size because it has to be appreciated in full resolutions. Fastball, cutter, slider, curve, splitter. It’s so pretty, and I love whoever made this. I don’t know who did, though, so someone tell them to come forward so I can give them smooches (UPDATE: Commenter LTG has the link for credits). Yu Darvish can have them, too. He’s so much fun to watch.
8. A Cut Below
It’s been bugging me for all of Cole Hamels‘s April starts that his cutter just hasn’t looked right, especially as they’ve been thrown to right-handed batters. It’s yielded a .684 OPS against, which is neither particularly good for a top-tier starter not terrible for any pitcher in the grand scheme. But the locations above are problematic. In 2012, Hamels was able to locate the cutter where it should be to RHB: in on the hands, whereas in 2013, quite a few have been left over the plate. If they continue to hang up like that, things may get a bit ugly.
7. Michael Young Singles Rampage
There’s the Antonio Bastardo Strikeout Rampage, so I think it’s about time it had an offensive foil. And we have apparently found that foil in Michael Young, whose last 20 hits entering Tuesday were singles. He entered off day Monday with a .352 average (3rd in the N.L) but only a .432 slugging percentage (45th in the N.L.). He’s 6th among the 20 qualified third basemen in OPS (.850), though, so maybe Baumann will see his prediction of an all-star bid come dangerously close to realization after all.
6. The Follow-Up
Jonathan Pettibone made his second career start Saturday against the Mets, a game I attended but one where I only saw two innings of Pettibone’s pitching. So while I didn’t get a great feel for his stuff like I could from a better seat or on a screen, it was nice to see him get a second start.
A couple of takeaways from the first two starts: the strikeouts are good, and only two walks in 10.1 IP is also something I’d take from any pitcher. The GB/FB trend is a little ominous (9 ground balls to 33 fly balls/line drives), but considering things weren’t expected to go ace-perfectly anyway, it all feels acceptable.
5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Doubles Off the Wall)
4. A Little More On Walks
It’ll be a season-long thing, just get used to it.
In this particular installation, let’s just cobble up some factoids and nuggets related to walks and the art of drawing them.
- Michael Young leads the club in walks with 10. Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have 8. Utley and Jimmy Rollins have 7. No one else has 5. They have the second-fewest players with 5+ walks in the Majors, trailing only the Cubs and Brewers, who have 4 each.
- The Phillies are 18th in the Majors in three-ball counts seen, with 175 entering Monday. Their .509 OBP at the conclusion of these PA ranks 24th.
- In 3-0 and 3-1 counts, the Phillies have a .673 OBP, which looks awesome. However, it’s the lowest in the National League in such counts and third-lowest in the league overall (White Sox, .638; Indians, .667). Hey, it could be worse: the Orioles started the day with a .063 team SLG in 3-1 counts.
- Hamels walked six Mets and escaped with a win. Cole’s extra walks are a bit concerning, but he’s still held hitters to a sub-.600 OPS over his last four starts, walks and all.
- No really, Young leads the team in bases on balls.
3. I Guess Kyle Kendrick Really Is Okay Now But I Just Can’t get Myself to Commit
I recently finished an apartment search. This apartment search took place in New York City, most of it involving Manhattan, so you can kind of figure things would be a bit of a headache. Along the way, my roommates and I were sabotaged by surprise costs or unlivable spaces or other various boobytraps – including nearly being surprisingly rejected on the day we were set to sign our leases! – and so there was no moment to truly settle down. Even now, with lease signed but without key-in-hand yet, I feel like something might spring out from behind a wall, smack a bill for another month’s prepayment on my forehead (those are expensive, which I’m sure you figured) and skip away laughing.
This isn’t completely unlike how I feel about Kyle Kendrick right now. In the past, his good showings have been brief stretches punctuated by a screaming crash to earth. That hasn’t happened yet this year – and, in fact, he’s really been better over the past few seasons than I can even believe sometimes – but I feel jaded to the point of continuing to expect something to go wrong. This is kinda crappy, because having a swingman turn into a legitimately solid depth starter is something to be cherished, not feared.
A 2.41 ERA. A 24-to-8 K-to-BB ratio. Just 3 home runs allowed in 33.2 IP.
Bill has more on this from Monday. I’ve read it and I’m still antsy; the stress from some of his more dramatically terrible outings is apparently tough to kick.
This conversation between Ryan, John Stolnis and I was kinda funnysad, in that it was nice to make a joke but depressing to think of something like that being used as an actual measure of talent. Or, ahem, “production.” I think it could catch on, but only in the most trenchantly biting fashion.
1. The Sparsely Attended Funeral
Matt Gelb had an interesting piece on Philly.com Friday on the decline in the Phillies’ attendance numbers. It could be yet another factor to consider as a few key players approach their walk years and/or become trade bait. I’ll save the spoiler quotes, except for this one: being second only to the Marlins in something attendance-related is usually a very bad thing.