There are good reasons why the Phillies are perfectly mediocre at the break. Let’s take a look position by position why the Phillies are seven back in the loss column.
Starting Pitching: B+
If it weren’t for starting pitching, the Phillies would be ten games under .500
With the exception of three subpar starts, Cliff Lee has been exceptional. Who would have guessed that Cole Hamels would have been 2-11 at the midpoint of the season? Hamels has had five lousy starts, but he’s primarily been the victim of poor run support. King Cole is back in a groove. Kyle Kendrick has been rock solid. John Lannan has been hurt and up and down. And then there is Roy Halladay, who pitched hurt and is on the shelf until September. Jonathan Pettibone has kept the team in games.
The Bullpen: C
The Phillies supposedly solved the eighth-inning problem by adding the best set-up man available in Mike Adams, who pitched hurt, was ineffective and is done for the season. What’s most surprising is that not one of the kiddie corp of relievers (Justin DeFratus, Mike Stutes, Phillippe Aumont, Jake Diekman) has seized the opportunity. Jonathan Papelbon has blown five saves, but he’s been good overall. J.C. Ramirez and his 98-mph fastball is intriguing.
First Base: Incomplete
It was obvious that something was wrong with Ryan Howard. The Big Piece had a great spring training. Howard tried to play through considerable pain with his left knee injury, which robbed him of his power. Howard is out until September and Darin Ruf is getting his opportunity. Can Ruf approximate the numbers a historic run producer provides? The magic eight ball — as well as several rivals and scouts — says absolutely not.
Second Base: B
When Chase Utley is out there, he’s played with that familiar intensity and his sweet, short stroke looks a lot like it did back in his glory days. The only problem is that he missed a month with his oblique injury.
Jimmy Rollins doesn’t have the pop he once had, but he still plays well-above-average defense. He still has great range and a plus arm.
Third Base: B-
The word was that Michael Young had gap power. Young had 58 extra-base hits in 2011. He’s on pace for less than half of that. However, Young shares the team lead in hits with 96. He has played solid defense. A huge upgrade over Placido Polanco, but certainly not a difference-maker.
Left Field: A
Does anyone want to trade or cut Domonic Brown now? A number of pundits suggested that Brown needed a change of scenery, but that’s not so. It’s not just about the 23 homers for the first-time All-Star. Brown has 67 RBIs and has hit left-handed pitching well. He’s been clutch and appears more comfortable in the cleanup spot than Hunter Pence was last season. The kicker is that Brown has been plus defensively in left. He has seven assists this season thanks to his cannon of an arm.
Center Field: B
Ben Revere turned things around quickly. After getting off to a very slow start, Revere rebounded and he leads the team in hits with Michael Young at 96. He has a .306 average. His defense has been spotty, but he was clearly on the upswing until he broke a bone in his ankle Saturday night. Revere won’t be back for two months and he’ll be sorely missed.
Right Field: C
Delmon Young has finally started putting it together offensively after a slow start. He, not Brown, is the weak defensive link in the outfield.
The Bench: B-
Kevin Frandsen has been clutch when called on to get big hits. The same could be said for Laynce Nix, until May 1 arrived. John Mayberry Jr., who will be plugged into center, has been decent off the bench. Erik Kratz is a good bat off the pine if you need someone to swing for the fences in the ninth.