The Philadelphia Phillies 2009 Midseason Report

July 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

The overview

With the Phillies sweeping the Pirates, we are now officially at the midway point. The Phillies stand at a 48-38 record, atop the NL East by 4 games, however the NL east hasn’t been a strong division this season. The Phillies have improved at home after a horrible 13-22 start; they stand at 22-23 after a terrific 9-1 home stand.

The Phillies have benefited of a very injured Mets team missing half their payroll with notable injuries of Carlos Delgado, John Maine, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes.

Overall the Phillies have been outstanding on the road, and about .500 at home. The Phils however have been the class of the NL East despite having a sub .500 record at home. Here’s an in-depth overview of how the Phils season has gone so far.

The pitching

Overall the Phillies pitching has not been stellar. The team has an overall ERA of 4.64 which ranks 25 overall in the majors.

However Phillies general manger Ruben Amaro Jr. has let it known that the Phillies are in the market for a starting pitcher, in fact the Phillies are expected to sign free agent Pedro Martinez soon, and are rumored to be interested in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes.

The ace Cole Hamels has been extremely inconsistent. While he has pitched some good games in which he looked like an ace, but most of his games, he hasn’t went deep into the game, and he’s been hit hard. Hamels has a 4.87 ERA, allowing 117 hits in 98 innings, not the numbers of an ace.

While Hamels hasn’t looked like an ace, the other young lefthander JA Happ has. Happ originally started the season as a reliever but eventually replaced Chan Ho Park in the rotation. After a solid outing today, Happ improves to 6-0, with a 2.90 ERA, allowing 70 hits in 87 innings, making a strong case for rookie of the year.

Joe Blanton has been up and down, but has looked good lately. Blanton is 6-4 with a 4.44 ERA. The other starts haven’t been great, Jamie Moyer has had his struggles but like last season Moyer has a 8-6 record with a 5.99 ERA.

Rodrigo Lopez has had two starts, leaving his last start after five innings of work. Lopez had a stellar first start against the Mets. Other starters like Antonio Bastardo and Chan Ho Park didn’t last long due to frequent struggles.

The bullpen has been inconsistent; guys like Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge have had major struggles at one point. Lidge was terrible for the beginning of the season and still hasn’t returned to 2008 form, although he has shown flashes of 2008, he currently has 7.03 ERA.

Madson was great as a set up man, but came to the closers’ role when Lidge went to the DL and really got hit hard. Chad Durbin has been inconsistent with a 4.47 ERA; JC Romero has been strong since coming back from his 50 game suspension with a 3.14 ERA.

One positive note is that Chan Ho Park has settled into the long reliever role, pitching quality innings.

The hitting

Unlike the pitching the hitting has been great. The Phillies offense ranks leads the NL in homers, and runs scored. The offense has carried the team at some points, in fact the Phillies have been very resilient and a great comeback team.

The leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins has struggled although he has got it going in the month of July, betting  .381. However Rollins is batting a mediocre .228 with a mere .285 on base percentage.

Rollins is traditionally a slow starter and tends to do better in the second half, but if the Phillies expect to score some runs, it makes it a lot easier when your leadoff hitter is on base, and Rollins has actually been walking a lot lately.

Chase Utley was the Phillies most productive offensive player, and really stepped up when Ibanez went down. Utley is batting .310 with 20 homers and 61 RBI, earning his fourth all-star start, and becoming the premier second baseman of baseball. Utley has also been strong defensively, with only 2 errors.

Ryan Howard earned another all star appearance, with a .258 batting average, with 22 homers and 66 RBI. Howard lost 25 pounds since last season, and it has really shown with his defense, as he has made some very nice plays only making 4 errors.

Last season Howard had to carry the team late in the season, this season he hasn’t. a huge reason is the new acquisition of Raul Ibanez. Ibanez has made the fans forget about Pat Burrell.

Ibanez has been able to do things that Burrell wasn’t able to do like playing the full game due to his solid defense. Ibanez has been a clutch hitter providing big hits late in the game. Ibanez is leading the team in batting average and homers, batting .314 with 22 homers and 60 RBI, despite being on the DL for some time.

Overall the Phillies have sent five all stars, three outfielders, while Utley, Howard, and Ibanez get most of the credit. Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth have been the underrated all stars, earning their first all star appearances.

Werth has certainly been a surprise hitting 20 homers and 56 RBI, his previous career high in homeruns is 24, he’s on pace for a 30 plus homers, 100 plus RBI season.

Team MVP
Chase Utley

It was tough picking this one, but I went with Utley because he really stepped up offensively when Ibanez went down. Utley would get some serious consideration if Albert Pujols wasn’t in the league.

Utley has become the best second baseman in baseball. Batting .310 with 20 homers and 61 RBI, Utley earned his fourth all-star appearance, not to mention his stellar defense at second base.

Team LVP
Jimmy Rollins

The 2007 MVP is this year’s LVP. Until Charlie Manuel sat him for four straight games, Rollins had been the team’s worst hitter. Rollins batted .167 in June, .238 in May, and .207 in April. He’s started to get it going, batting .381 in July. Rollins needs to get it going, because he’s the catalyst for the offense.

Second half prediction

I will make a bold prediction that the Phillies will win the division, if the Mets get healthy it may be a case of too little too late. The Marlins are too young, and the Braves don’t have that big bat.

If the Phillies make a trade for Roy Hallady they are a lock to make it to the NLCS. If Pedro Martinez is signed and becomes a reliable starter to go along with Hamels and Hallady, this team will be favored in almost any playoff series.

The Phillies’ task right now is to improve the starting pitching, to go along with the great hitting in place in order to make another run at a world championship.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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