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The Phillies schedule isn’t helping them at the moment

May 18, 2011, 11:06 AM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v  Washington Nationals Getty Images

A factoid from Buster Olney’s column this morning:

The Phillies had one of the easiest schedules in the majors in their first 30 games, playing only seven games against teams that had records over .500 — and they did a great job taking advantage, starting 21-9. Since their schedule got more difficult, they have struggled, winning four of 11.

That kind of stat, at least this time of year, is potentially misleading, inasmuch as with relatively few games having been played, one of the major reasons those teams have losing records is because they played, in this case, the Phillies, whose victories over them helped make them losing teams.

But it is the case that the schedule is simply brutal for Philly right now. This bad stretch has come against Atlanta, Florida (who they actually beat two of three) and St. Louis, each of whom has taken a turn as “the hottest team in the NL” at some point in the past couple of weeks.  They’re coming home today to face a Rockies team that seems to be rebounding from an early-May swoon. And then they host the Reds and the Rangers.

So I guess what I’m saying is that while the current stretch is depressing the heck out of Phillies fans, the combination of the schedule, the injuries and the offensive swoon could very well mean that this is a low point, not some indicator of a new reality.

Pretty soon the Mets and Pirates will be on the schedule. Pretty soon Chase Utley will be back.  Pretty soon Domonic Brown — who went 1 for 2 with a couple of RBI last night — will be in the outfield every day.  Like every other otherwise strong team that hits the doldrums, it’s just a matter of holding out until the wind picks up again.

  1. mikedi33 - May 18, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Pretty much doesn’t matter who you are playing when your starting Michael martinez, Dane Sardina, and Wilson Valdez you are not going to win too many games.

  2. bigxrob - May 18, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    From May 22 to May 31 last year, they scored 10 runs in 9 games, including 5 where they were shut out.
    So, chill out everybody, they will be fine.

  3. seanmk - May 18, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    yeah you can’t say it’s an easy schedule because we don’t know what team are good and bad yet. records don’t give a good indication yet. i mean hell a few days ago the royals had a better record then the red sox. colorado was losing against bad teams does that mean something? buster get on the rockies slump!

  4. Chris Fiorentino - May 18, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    “while the current stretch is depressing the heck out of Phillies fans”

    Add MANY between “of” and “Philllies” because I’m not depressed even a little bit. I know the offense will come around. As bad as they have played, they STILL have the best record in the NL. They will be just fine. This will be but a blip on the radar come July when they are 8 games up in the division.

    • Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      No sh!t….. Whoops, I mean Amen brother.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - May 18, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      I can tell you why Lee is having issues…he’s on my fantasy team. For some reason all of my “good” or “great” pitchers are sucking ballz. By sucking ballz, I mean they aren’t pitching perfect games each time out, which is just ridiculous. Call the “El Bravo” curse. The curse has even hurt my own team’s SP, Senor Beachy.

      • rebarratige - May 18, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        You know what I say about pitchers – if you aren’t pitching perfect games, you get D’edFA. Your job is to get 27 outs in a row. If you can’t do your job, you get demoted. It’s that simple.

        I’ve been having trouble tracking down qualified pitchers lately.

  5. ame123 - May 18, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    Starting 2 backups (Francisco, JMJ) and 2 third stringers (Martinez, Sardinha) against one of the best pitchers in the league make it pretty tough. I think we may see Utley and Brown both as early as this weekend.

  6. nps6724 - May 18, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    I think most people knew Philly’s amazing start was due more to the teams they were playing than anything else. They’re a very good team and will probably win the NL East, but they’ve been hurting since before the season even began but their schedule helped them push through. They’ve already played 6 teams that are under .500 (110-139 overall, .442 W%) and went 18-7 against them. They’re 7-9 against their 3 opponents above .500 (Florida, Atlanta, and St. Louis).

    But Philly has no reason to fret at this point. Get Utley back and let’s see what happens.

  7. spudchukar - May 18, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Is this a “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” promo or baseball analysis. On the bright side, the Martinez kid looks pretty good to me, KK may be finally living up to promise and a couple young relievers Stutes and Bastardo have excelled. But the reality is, it is an aging team with predictable injuries, poor OBP hitters, dwindling power, a slugger who is primarily a mistake hitter, little outfield offensive production and closer questions. A healthy Utley would certainly help, but this is an offensively challenged team, with four excellent starters. Runs are going to continue to be tough to acquire. This is a team much more likely to struggle to 90 wins than the much ballyhooed 100+.

    • Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM

      KK is not living up to promise. He has some sort of Voodoo sh!t going on where only good luck can befall him in his pitching endeavors right now. He is the anti BABIP poster child. He has been referred to as the “Kendrickorn” and this mythical creature is gaining in popularity as his good fortune is misunderstood for quality. The Kendrickorn is wiley and enjoys stealing wins from Cliff Lee. It’s a past time of his.

      • spudchukar - May 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        I did say “may”, but you are most likely correct, he is currently posing as good only to resort to form just when you begin to count on him. An imposter ready to implode. I recall a particular performance last year against my Cards where he was butt awful.

      • Phillies Homer - May 18, 2011 at 1:43 PM

        I haven’t watched Kendrick pitch all that much. But, I’m guessing his low ERA is really “smoking mirrors” as what is really going on.

        Shout out to biceps for “smoking mirrors”!

      • Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

        Yes the Kendrickorn is all about smoking things, including mirrors. His K per 9 is 2.5, while he walks 5 per, and allows 6.2 hits per. So yeah, he’s plenty lucky so far that his defense has covered his behind up until now.

      • rebarratige - May 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        That Kendrickorn picture haunts my nightmares.

      • Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        Yes, mine too. But it also makes me laugh my a$$ off. Who laughs out of fear anyway? I must be warped.

  8. kellyb9 - May 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Oswalt should have known better than giving up a run.

    • Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      I know, what ails that boy?

  9. paperlions - May 18, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    The Cardinals bulldozed their way to a two game sweep.
    .
    Yeah, it’s apropos of nothing in this thread….just couldn’t help it.

  10. xmatt0926x - May 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I want to give Craig credit for at least looking at the whole picture. It’s lazy journalism when the national guys at espn simply say “well they are playing a tougher schedule”. It’s a wee bit more involved than that. It’s not like the Phillies are all of a sudden playing the ’27 Yankees and the rest of the teams are playing donkeys. Look at the National league. there’s a few bad teams but mostly it’s very competitive with a lot of parity. The espn guys act like the phils were playing the little sisters of the poor all year while the other teams were playing juggernauts. The bigger issue is the double A lineup that Charlie has to throw out there on a near daily basis due to injuries recently. Michael Martinez, Dane Sardania, Wilson Valdez, Ben Francisco, and whatever pitcher is throwing that night. I dont care what kind of pitchers you have. If they know the game is lost once they give up that 2nd run than thats a problem. To generalize it and make it seem that the Phillies in general are struggling in the last week just because they are playing better teams is to ignore basic facts. Are the Braves lighting it up? The Cardinals? They didn’t exactly crush the Phillies. The Braves are struggling to score anything with their regular lineup going and they are playing the Astros. Let’s see where things shake out in July.

    • spudchukar - May 18, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      All valid points Matt, however you seem to consider injuries, particularly to a veteran team, are some anomaly that has only descended upon southeastern Pennsylvania. All teams must endure them, and older teams can expect a disproportionate number to occur. Not having viable replacements is short-sighted. On your latest losing trip to St. Louis you played a beleaguered team that has lost the best hurler over the past three years in the NL for the season, a run producing machine at 3B until the All-Star break, their second baseman for a couple of months, the backup to him in game 2, and their budding All-Star centerfielder for the series. They just got back Allen Craig, from the DL, and he is rusty, and their second lefty out of the bullpen still languishes there and a promising and early season success story reliever who was moved to the 60-day DL.

      Your team has chosen your backups and your choices haven’t performed very well. This isn’t bad luck, it is poor planning.

      • xmatt0926x - May 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        Spud, I’m with you and your point actually isn’t much different than mine. You do have to factor injuries in for other teams as well and definitely for older teams such as the Phillies. I’m just saying that 2 weeks ago Buster Olney and a blogger (forget his name) at ESPN were both chalking the Phillies record up to simple logic that the Phillies are playing a weaker schedule, end of story. And now that they are in their “tough” portion of the schedule now you see that they have struggled and these national guys speak as if their point is vindicated.. Yes, they have struggled in the last week but Victorino and Ruiz have also gone down exactly at that time as well. I’m also making the point that there is much parity in the national league and I don’t see where the Braves or anyone else were playing the ’27 Yankees for 45 games while the Phillies were playing the Pirates for 45 games. I don’t think there is m uch difference overall in the teams that the Phillies have been playing. I’m actually not a Phillies fanboy who feels they are a 110 win team and better than everyone else. I’ve been calling this offense overrated since back in the years when people thought it was a good offense. I also think the Braves are right there with them and the Marlins not far behind. I just can’t stand when national guys who don’t see the teams everyday issues generalize things without including all the issues that the team is facing at that particular time.

  11. jmcnick - May 18, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Buster Olney writing a negative column on the Phillies? Wow I didn’t see that coming.

  12. schmedley69 - May 18, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Go back and look at the Phillies trends over the past 3 years or so and you will find that they usually go into a major slump around this time of year and don’t come out of it until after the 4th of July. It doesn’t matter who they play when they are in one of these slumps, the outcome will be the same. In 2009 they were swept at home by the god-awful Orioles. Last year they got off to a great start and had about the same exact record on May 18th. Then they went into one of their famous funks and nosedived. I think they fell 7 games behind the Braves at one point.

    They have been able to recover from these slumps because their division rivals usually come back to Earth while the Phillies play improves in the second half. One of these years, they won’t be so lucky. One of these years the Braves or Marlins will take the lead while the Phillies are swooning and won’t give it back. It is so frustrating to watch them when they play like this. It’s as if they completely forget how to play the game.

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