Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Phillies Collect Their Thoughts After Opening Day Thrashing

GAME RECAP: The Phillies Didn’t Lose!
No game was played yesterday… although some could say that the Phillies have yet to play this season.

  • Phillies right-hander Chad Billingsley will begin a Triple-A rehab assignment on Friday. Billingsley is recovering from a pair of right elbow surgeries over the past two years. The Phils are optimistic Billingsley's health issues are behind him, and they hope he will be able to join the club's rotation before the end of the month. In the meantime, Sean O'Sullivan could be the team's No. 5 starter, which it does not need until Sunday.
  • Porcello is coming off a career year, as he established personal bests in wins (15), ERA (3.43) and innings (204 2/3). The righty looked solid during Spring Training, and he has looked comfortable blending in with his new teammates. This is the earliest Porcello has ever pitched in a season. He pitched the fourth game five times for the Tigers and the third game once.
  • Red Sox cleanup man Hanley Ramirez has feasted against Harang in his career, going 10-for-29 with five homers and seven RBIs. David Ortiz has had similar success, going 5-for-11 with three doubles and a homer. Phillies leadoff man Ben Revere has done well against Porcello, going 7-for-19.

After the Red Sox's revamped lineup cruised to an 8-0 Opening Day win on Monday, Game 2 of this three-game series features two veteran right-handers making debuts for their new team. Rick Porcello, who is being counted on to be a big part of Boston's starting rotation, will make his first career start for someone other than the Detroit Tigers. Right-hander Aaron Harang makes his Phillies debut in the second game of the three-game series. Harang went 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts last season with the Braves. The well-traveled Aaron Harang pitched for the Athletics, Reds, Dodgers, Padres, Mariners, Mets and Braves before coming to the Phillies.


The Offensive Waiting Game – Jimmy Rollins ripped a game-winning three-run home run to right field Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, while Kyle Kendrick pitched seven scoreless innings in Milwaukee. Back at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies managed just three hits in an 8-0 loss to the Red Sox. "I mean, it's one game," Grady Sizemore said afterward. "Just one game out of 162," manager Ryne Sandberg said. That common-sense perspective often proves true following Opening Day. It almost certainly will prove true for Phillies ace Cole Hamels, who allowed four home runs in five innings. He will be better. Hamels is 14-16 with a 4.12 ERA in 38 career starts in April. He is 94-68 with a 3.16 ERA in 238 appearances the rest of the season. Nobody is worried about Hamels. But can the same be said about the offense? Phillies president Pat Gillick and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last month that the team was not going to score a lot of runs in 2015. The Phils scored 619 runs last season and 610 runs in 2013, which were two of the four lowest-scoring seasons for the club in a non-strike-shortened year since 1972. The front office then traded Rollins and Marlon Byrd in the offseason and did not replace them with comparable talents. The Phillies followed those moves with a .641 OPS in Spring Training, which was the lowest mark of any team in baseball. "You can't put any stock into spring," Sizemore said. "It's going to come in time," Ben Revere added. The lack of power throughout the Phils' lineup certainly hurts. Small ball is a well-intentioned philosophy, but teams that rely on small ball (i.e., bunting, putting runners in motion, etc.) rarely seem to score runs consistently. So the Phillies must hope a few things happen if they expect to surprise anybody offensively this season: Revere and Odubel Herrera both need to hit better than .300 and use their legs to cause havoc on the basepaths. Chase Utley will have to hit like he did in the first half of last season (.794 OPS) and not like the second half (.674 OPS). Ryan Howard needs to hit 30 home runs again and post an OPS closer to .800 than .700 (he had a .690 OPS last season). Carlos Ruiz has to stay healthy and give the Phils some much-needed production from the right side of the plate. Cody Asche needs to take a step forward and Freddy Galvis has to be better than a .220-type hitter. The Phillies would love to see prospect Maikel Franco crush the baseball in Triple-A and get back to the big leagues sooner rather than later. For that matter, they would love to see some of their top prospects take big steps forward in the Minor Leagues. But the prospects are long-term solutions. The Phils are hoping for some short-term answers as early as Wednesday. The players tried to be optimistic in the wake of their season-opening setback. "It'll come up," Revere said about the offense. "I believe it 100 percent. I've got faith in all these guys. We'll come back and change people's minds."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now tied for last in the NL east at 0-1 but they are also only one game behind first place. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance this spring, don’t expect their competitive place in the standings to last. All time, the Phillies are 13-18-1 on this day.

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