Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Phillies Sweep Up the Rocks

The Phillies continued to get revenge for their early playoff exit last year as they completed a three game sweep of the Rockies with a 6-1 win.

The Phillies took an easy early lead as Rockies starter Greg Reynolds walked Geoff Jenkins with the bases loaded to score Shane Victorino in the first inning. Reynolds walked eight batters throughout the night. In the fifth inning, Chase Utley and Jenkins each homered for a total of five RBI. Adam Eaton allowed only one run in six innings, striking out four and allowing only four hits and got his first win of the season. Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, and Chad Durbin didn't allow a run in the last three innings, though Durbin put runners on second and third before finishing out the game, and Madson saved himself a run by salvaging a throwing error by Jenkins and throwing out Ryan Spilborghs at home plate.

There is no reason that the Phillies should have had any trouble sweeping the Rockies, and they didn't. The Rockies have a number of key players on their disabled list, including MVP-runner up Matt Holliday, rookie sensation (though sophomore disappointment) Troy Tulowitski and his backup, one-time hitting machine Clint Barmes. Brad Hawpe and pitchers Luis Vizcaino and Kip Wells are injured as well. The Phillies also got lucky in facing the 3-4-5 starters, which included dreadful performances by Jorge De La Rosa and tonight's starter Greg Reynolds, who didn't get obliterated in the way De La Rosa did, but this is a team with a lot of guys who know how to draw walks and Reynolds was hurt by that. The Rockies look fairly similar to a couple years ago when it was pretty much the Todd Helton Kiddie Show, where Todd shows his young buddies how to play baseball. Nowadays I suppose it's him and his friendly sidekick Garrett Atkins.

With that in mind, it's not clear whether or not the quality starts by Moyer, Kendrick, and Eaton really were breakthroughs in their seasons. Moyer had a particularly nice game, and he might be on to something though he certainly won't start to dominate, even in his own sneaky way. Kendrick and Eaton will also more likely than continue to do what they've been doing for most of the season: somewhere on the spectrum between satisfactory and abysmal. Half of the outs that Adam Eaton got tonight were fly balls. On a more threatening team, some of those fly balls would probably travel farther and cause more damage. That's the main problem with Adam Eaton in the Phillies ballpark. His most successful seasons came in the pitcher-friendly Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park in San Diego. It would be one thing if Eaton suddenly figured out how to control his pitches and strike guys out, but tonight he was able to win by doing what he'd been successful at before. This will not work with the better teams in the league. But with all of his mediocre starts this season, it's about time that they amounted up to a win.

The Phillies should not, however, take Eaton out of the rotation, especially to replace him with Chad Durbin. The Phillies have one of the best bullpens in the majors, and Chad Durbin is an extremely versatile pitcher and a huge asset to them. Eaton hasn't been particularly good, but in his 11 starts (yes - he's 1-3 after 11 starts), he's only allowed more than 3 earned runs in 3 of those games. If he was supposed to be the number three starter in the rotation, then it might be cause for concern, but he's the number five starter. Even on some of the better teams in the league, who does that put him up against? Claudio Vargas on the Mets; the Marlins don't really have any great pitchers, but it would be Burke Badenhop; Sean Gallagher of the Cubs; Chris Sampson of the Astros; Randy Johnson of the D'backs, but they have a particularly strong rotation. Most of these guys aren't mediocre veterans like Eaton, but they're not particularly good either. They're number five starters - mostly young players who might eventually become number three or maybe even two starters. If the Phillies come across a way to get a starter who is a vast improvement into the rotation, then Eaton should be the first to be kicked out. But Durbin isn't a big enough improvement, and there's no one in their current system who merits a starter role over Eaton. He won't have too many more starts like tonight, but as long as he remains fairly steady, he should be fine.

Shane Victorino had his 12th stolen base tonight. That's pretty good. But, Michael Bourn has 23.

No comments: