I want to tell the fans of the Philadelphia Phillies to relax. I understand that the Philadelphia Phillies lost the home opener today 6-2 to the Miami Marlins. I understand that the team went 1-2 in the opening series at Pittsburgh. I understand that the team sits at fourth place in the division with a 1-3 record overall, but I also understand that it is a long season.
The MLB season has 162 games, so the Phillies have plenty of time to make up ground in the division. While the division has certainly gotten stronger, it is still winnable. The Phillies have the talent and pitching depth to compete with each team in the division. Furthermore, the team still has many of the core players that won the division over the past five seasons. While it may not be easy, I still believe the Phillies will win the National League East once again.
The one major concern is the offense, which has looked putrid during the first four games of the season. However, remember that the offense is currently missing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. While Chase Utley may never be quite the same player he was a few years ago, he still is a quality player who can provide more pop to the offense. As for Ryan Howard, he provides the power for the middle of this lineup and I believe he will return to full form by mid-season. Remember that certain players in the lineup now, including Freddy Galvis, have little or no everyday experience against Major League pitching.
For those fans who want to see more runs, I am sorry to say that you are out of luck. This is not the same team it was in 2008 and the offense will not get back to that same level. The season will consist of many low-scoring, one-run games that the Phillies will have to find a way to win. As Phillies fans, we were spoiled with offense when this team started to take control of the division. I know those days were fun, but they are over. Appreciate what you had and realize what you have now: a team that relies on pitching.
As for the starting pitching, it has been strong to this point. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Vance Worley pitched very well in Pittsburgh. Cole Hamels struggled today, but he faced a strong Marlins’ offense that includes Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez. Furthermore, the former World Series MVP proved last season that he can shake off a poor start and have a successful outing in the next game. The strength of the bullpen, which includes multiple young arms, is still up for debate. Michael Stutes did not pitch great over the weekend and David Herndon got the loss on Sunday as the team blew a three-run lead. The pitchers in the middle of the bullpen need to do a better job and give the ball to Jonathan Papelbon with a lead.
So please fans, try to relax. Remember it is a long season and that this team can win without a offense similar to the one that we saw in 2008. Finally, remember that before last season, this team had a history of starting the season poorly and playing well in the summer months. Let’s just wait and watch more games before we call the season over.