Ryan Howard Is the Reason The Phillies Won’t Win

November 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

When you lose, there’s always a goat, always someone to blame.

Remember when the Cubs turned on fan Steve Bartman for stopping Moises Alou from catching that foul ball in Game Six of the NLCS against the Marlins in 2003?

Remember when Alex Rodriguez was slammed for being unable to perform in the playoffs when he batted just .159 over 13 divisional championship games against the Angels, Tigers and Indians in 2005, 2006 and 2007?

Remember Bill Buckner?

For the boo-boys of Philadelphia, it’s going to be Ryan Howard, the all-conquering, free-swinging All Star slugger.

I am not interested in what he has done over the last four seasons or what he has done in this year’s NLDS or NLCS.

Sports fans are fickle, concerned with the here-and-now, and this can’t be more true of a team than Philadelphia.

It’s that ‘what have you done for me lately’ mentality.

Sure, you can live with Howard’s eight strikeouts in nine playoff games leading up to the 2009 World Series, but only because of the 14 runs he knocked in, eight runs he scored himself, and seven walks he drew.

Howard has always been a guy who will strike out a lot, so people expect a high number of whiffs to go hand-in-hand with awesome power and incredible production.

The problem is, each one of his problems in the World Series is not only exploited, but also magnified.

Fans can blame who they like if the Phillies lose Game Six in the Bronx tonight, but it has to fall on Howard.

Pedro Feliz has certainly been below-par throughout the Fall Classic with the exception of the bomb he launched off of Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning of Game Four, and Shane Victorino is certainly a goat-worthy candidate with just three hits in five games.

Brad Lidge will also probably come into the question because of the way he imploded at the end of Game Four, losing the game in the ninth inning and leaving his manager with no faith in him, and the finger could even be pointed towards Cole Hamels for failing to give his team a chance to win in Game Three against a decidedly average Andy Pettitte.

But look, Feliz is little more than a .250 hitter anyway, and you have him batting in the seven or eight hole in the lineup.

Victorino has admittedly been poor, but it’s not like he is a massive power threat.  He is there to hit behind Rollins, steal bases and set the table for Utley—and we all know what Utley has done without help from anyone.

Yes Lidge did collapse, but honestly, what did you expect?  He was 0-8 with 11 blown saves and an ERA over 7.00 in the regular season.  He is not the Lidge of 2008, and his appearances against the Rockies and Dodgers were exceptions to the 2009 norm.

And don’t even think about dishing out the lion’s share of the blame onto Hamels.  Has he stunk?  Yeah, he was pretty bad, but as poorly as he pitched, the Phillies were only down by two runs when he left in the fifth inning.

Look no further than Ryan Howard.

He’s 3-for-19 so far with 12 strikeouts.  He has left eight on base and is just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.  Andy Pettitte has as many RBI as Howard does, such have been his woes at the plate.

He has struck out swinging on sinkers down and in and sliders away, and he has been frozen helpless looking at curveballs.

With Pettitte taking the mound in Game Six on Wednesday, don’t expect him to see an inside pitch there either.  It’s going to be slider away all night.

With someone who pulls the ball as much as Howard does, it makes sense to pitch him away.  Make him take it the other way if he wants to find his power stroke and don’t let him get the meat of the bat on it.

More often than not, Howard will ground weakly into a shift.  That is when he does put the ball in play which has been at a premium this World Series.

He was pulling off against CC Sabathia in Games One and Four and fouling off the inside pitches he did see against the righties.  Simply put, although he has improved against southpaws, he is still a really bad hitter against left-handed pitching.

One big difference between 2009 and when the Phillies won it all in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays is that the Rays only had one left-handed starter, Scott kazmir.

Howard was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Kazmir and just 1-for-12 with eight Ks against the Rays’ left-handed pitchers.  He was 5-for-9 with two home runs against the right-handers.

Maybe if the Rays had another lefty in their rotation, things would have been different. But probably not.

People will argue that Philadelphia will win as a team and lose as a team.  That sentiment is fine and not without merit.

But while the Phillies have by no means been embarrassed by the Yankees, the only person you can blame is Howard.

Statistically it may only represent a few games, but those games are in the World Series, and they are some of the most important of his life.

Howard is better than this, and I’m sure he won’t let it phase him, but the fact is this time around he isn’t good enough.

Or more accurately, the Yankees were just too good.

45 home runs and 141 ribbies count for precious little right now.

Boo all you want.  Howard is having a stinker and he’s the reason the Phillies aren’t repeating.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...