Friday, August 08, 2008

Two Flavors of Frustration
While “working” at home Thursday afternoon, I had the distinct non-pleasure of watching the Phillies get shut out by the Florida Marlins, 3-0. The shutout was the seventh the supposedly potent Phils offense has endured in 2008, after getting blanked a total of six times combined in 2006 and 2007 (and as I type, they're bidding for #8, with a scoreless game in the 8th inning). And yet again it wasted a strong outing by team ace Cole Hamels, who pitched into the seventh inning and allowed two earned runs while striking out seven. Hamels has the best ERA on the team at 3.35, but just a 9-8 record to show for it. The biggest reason why is the team’s utter lack of offensive support: in ten of Hamels’ 24 starts this season, the Phillies have scored two runs or fewer, including three of the shutouts.

In addition to losing a game of their lead over the second-place Marlins, the Phils also allowed the Mets, who were playing at the same time, to creep one game closer in the competitive NL East. New York won their game, 5-3, on a two-run walkoff homer by David Wright. But the Mets starter yesterday, Johan Santana, might be even more frustrated than Hamels: for the seventh time in 2008, he left the game with a lead only to see the bullpen squander it behind him. (The Phillies accounted for two of those, and unlike yesterday, the Mets lost those contests. It’s the only good thing the Phils have done against the Mets this season, as New York has won 9 of the teams’ 13 games.) For the year, Santana has been even better than Hamels: his ERA is 2.85, fifth best in the NL and more than thirty points below his outstanding career mark of 3.18. But his record is only 9-7.

There’s obviously a lesson (at least one) to be gleaned from all this, but articulating anything along these lines would seem to be little more than an exercise in clichéd statements of the obvious. All I can say for sure is that the Phillies have blown a lot of good work by their best pitcher, and that the Mets’ shitty bullpen could wind up costing me money in two fantasy leagues in which I paid top dollar for Johan Santana.

And on that note, I’m off for a short vacation. Back next Friday.

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