The Phillies are a classic "window has closed" baseball team. That isn't to say that they don't have good players, because they certainly do. They have a couple guys that could be All Stars this year and a number of solid regulars that would fit in on any contending team.
The problem is, the Phillies are old; very, very old. Around the infield, the Phillies play Ryan Howard (34 years old) at first, Chase Utley (35) at second, Jimmy Rollins (35) at short, Cody Asche (23) at third, and Carlos Ruiz (35) at catcher. The outlier there is Asche, but he's actually been the worst of the bunch.
That's the thing; those old players are actually very good when they're healthy (well, maybe not Ryan Howard). Utley, totally healthy for the first time in a while, is hitting the absolute stupidity out of the baseball, already piling up 1.6 WAR. Rollins is having a very nice campaign so far, with an OPS of .760 while playing a steady short stop. Ruiz is a rock solid backstop with a .365 OBP.
So when these guys play, they produce. The problem is keeping them on the field. Utley played 131 games last year, and that was his highest total--by a lot--since 2009. Ruiz only accrued 341 PA last year. Howard has been absolutely bedeviled by injuries in 2012 and 2013. Rollins has actually been very durable, but his numbers took a tumble in 2013; at his age that might be an outlier year, but more likely he's hitting his decline phase.
The Phils turn to a motley crew of outfielders in 2014. Ben Revere is a speedy center fielder who is utterly powerless. Dominic Brown is a former top prospect who has turned into a respectable, if streaky, corner outfielder. Marlon Byrd, a big free agent acquisition, is coming off a renaissance year, but at age 37 it's fair to wonder if that was a fluke. He's striking out at a prodigious rate while hardly walking at all.
On the pitching side of things, the Phillies, like seemingly all teams, are dealing with the injury bug. Cole Hamels hasn't thrown a pitch yet, though he's close to returning (the Rockies will likely miss him). The Rocks will be missing the Phillies other best starters, Cliff Lee and AJ Burnett, as well. Instead they'll be squaring off against the decidedly less intimidating Jonathan Pettibone, Kyle Kendrick, and Roberto Hernandez.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon has been pretty terrible too, with a fastball that's barely scraping above 90 MPH. That's nice.
The Phillies are relying on old-as-dirt veterans firmly in their decline phase. They don't have any real prospects to speak of and their backups are pretty terrible. If their old guys stay miraculously healthy, they could push perhaps 85 wins. In the more likely scenario, some of them get injured or lose effectiveness, the team spirals, and a dispiriting losing record results.
That doesn't really affect the next few days, as most of the regulars are healthy at this moment. The Rockies caught a stroke of good luck in the pitching matchups: no Lee, Burnett, or Hamels. Rockies pitching will have to contain Utley, who is simply unconscious right now. I predict a 2-1 series victory, where one of these starters inexplicably shuts the lineup down.
|Justin De Fratus||0||0||0||5||3.6||1.8||3.6||0.188||62.50%||44.40%||33.30%||7.2||8.05||4.5||-0.2|
Friday: Phillies' Jonathan Pettibone ((0-2, 3.50 ERA) at Rockies' Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00), 6:10 p.m., ROOT
Saturday: Phillies' Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 3.50 ERA) at Rockies' Jordan Lyles (2-0, 4.32), 6:10 p.m., ROOT
Sunday: Phillies' Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 3.86) at Rockies' Juan Nicasio (2-0, 3.50), 2:10 p.m., ROOT