Results tagged ‘ Jake Diekman ’

The Phillies Black Cloud

AB CloudThere is a gigantic, scary black cloud hovering over this Phillies team.  It’s called “the bullpen.”  Run for cover!  Here they come again!

Poor Cole Hamels watched his 133 pitch, 1-run, 7-inning performance and his 100th career win get washed down the storm drain on Sunday against the Mets.  The Phillies bullpen flushed it right down the proverbial toilet.  And this is only 1 of many frightening bullpen performances this year.

In fact, there are so few players out in the pen that team management trusts, they actually wound up putting in starter Roberto Hernandez in the 9th inning to try to clean up the mess Antonio Bastardo made.  Bastardo took a 4-1 Phillies lead and totally obliterated it, allowing 3 earned runs including a 2-run homer.

Apparently, closer Jonathan Papelbon had a sore neck and back and was unable to pitch.  Mike Adams and Jake Diekman were both unavailable, I assume because they each pitched in the previous 2 games.  So by the 11th inning they were left with Jeff Manship, who walked 2 batters and gave up the winning run to the Mets.

Here is a really not-so-fun statistic for you:  Every single pitcher, except Papelbon, in the Phillies bullpen has an ERA at or over 4.50.  All of them.  This team cannot possibly expect to go anywhere with those numbers.

And now, on top of getting swept by the Jays in 4 games and losing the final game to the Mets for a 2-5 record in 7 games, the Phillies need another starting pitcher because Hernandez was used yesterday in the pen.  And the pickings in the minors are slim…

Speaking of the minors, the black cloud apparently followed Freddy Galvis there when he was sent down after the Jays series.  He collided with a wall yesterday and broke his left clavicle; he now needs surgery.  Earlier in Spring Training, he suffered from an awful MRSA infection and missed the first few weeks of the season.  When he finally came back, he had exactly 2 hits in 46 at-bats and was finally sent down to Triple-A.  And now he breaks a bone…wow.  Maybe this is the universe telling Freddy to just stay in bed.  Poor guy.

The Phillies are off today and I am sure the bullpen is very thankful for that.  They will play a short, 2-game series with the Angels starting Tuesday night at 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Bullpen Killing the Phillies

This Phillies bullpen sucks.  There are few more accurate ways to describe it.  The young pitchers are up one day and way down the next; the veterans are too inconsistent and have the threat of injuries, both past and present, constantly haunting them.

But the real shame of Monday night’s 9-6 loss to the Braves was the wasted 8th inning 5-run rally, including a 3-run shot from Domonic Brown.  That gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead, which was wiped away in the 9th inning with a Dan Uggla Grand Slam.  Ugh.

It seems the 2014 Phillies may actually have the spirit and possibly the offense to carry them to a winning season.  But without the pitching, they are sunk.  It is only mid-April and this team is already breaking records, and not in a good way.

BJRB.J. Rosenberg gave up 3 home runs to consecutive batters last night.  That feat has not occurred in literally over 100 years of MLB history.  Sure, he has a nice fastball.  But clearly, he has no idea what to do with it.

Jake Diekman has a big arm too.  But the lack of experience, recent overuse and general wildness is holding him back.  Pretty much every guy in the Phillies pen is suspect.  Mike Adams is back, but after being out for so long with such an array of injuries, the expectations of him are low.

Even the starting pitching has major issues.  Roberto Hernandez looked winded last night after only 5 innings.  He has yet to make it through 6 innings.  And now A.J. Burnett has been diagnosed with a hernia.  He will pitch through the pain, which is not a comforting thought.

Some of these guys have real talent, like Diekman.  But even the smartest students do not always get good grades.  Many times, the results depend on the teacher.  So why are the Phillies seemingly unable to develop their talent?  And how deep within the organization does this disconnect go?  This is not a new problem.  It seems like every year, the Phillies bring up young pitchers who are just not prepared.

I wish I had the answers to those questions.  Thoughts?  Feel free to comment below.

Game 2 with the Braves begins at 7:05pm tonight.

Phillies Take First Two in Chicago

After a devastating loss on Wednesday, the Phillies have bounced back in the next series, winning their first 2 games against the Cubs.  Friday’s game was a 7-2 score and today they won 2-0 as Cliff Lee stunned the Cubbies.

Lee was able to lower his horrible 14.40 Opening Day ERA to only 6.00 with this 7 inning effort.  So all is well again with the Phillies ace…yeah!

And the offense is not too shabby to start the season.  Chase Utley is absolutely on fire after a very slow Spring Training.  In the last 2 games, Utley has 5 hits and 4 RBI including 2 home runs.  He also hit his 300th career double today and ended the game just a triple shy of the cycle.

Domonic Brown has also come to life with 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 RBI in these 2 games, plus ZERO strikeouts.  Nada.  That alone tells me he is in the zone.

P7073923Another interesting note is that we are learning some things about the Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg, early in the season.  First, he is totally in love with Jake Diekman.  Diekman has pitched in 4 out of 5 games so far this season while fellow reliever Brad Lincoln has yet to throw a pitch.  Justin DeFratus has pitched 1 inning and Jeff Manship has thrown exactly 2 pitches total.

Sandberg says he is trying to establish who fits in which spots in the bullpen.  By the way, is that not what Spring Training was for?  Just saying.  And if he is looking for good fits, does this mean those 3 pitchers that have not been or barely been used do not “fit” anywhere?  Hmmmm…

We have also learned that Sandberg is not totally sold on Roberto Hernandez.  In Friday’s game, Hernandez appeared to be cruising in the 6th inning when, after one out was recorded, Sandberg pulled him and put in Diekman.  Hernandez had given up 2 runs in the first 5 innings, but his pitch count was low (73).  That was a weird move.

One last thing I like to mention about today’s game…Jonathan Papelbon saved a game!  Miracles never cease!  Yes, that comment is dripping with sarcasm.  When he saves 3 or 4 in a row with minimal drama, I will curb my smart remarks.  Until then, congrats Pap!  You live to fight another day!

Can the Phillies sweep this series?  Hope so!  Game 3 is Sunday at 2:20pm and A.J. Burnett will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dead Men Walking: The 2013 Phillies

In their 4th consecutive loss on Wednesday night, I do believe the Phillies finally rolled over and died.  They did not just lose 4 games, they were slaughtered in the ugliest and most painful manner possible.

Every problem this team has had this season was glaring in last night’s 3-11 drubbing, courtesy of the Cardinals.  It was a proverbial highlight reel of all that is wrong with the 2013 Phillies.  First, the starting pitching has been wildly inconsistent.  John Lannan had 2 solid outings in his last few attempts; but last night, he was run out of the game after only 4 innings with 4 runs allowed.  In the 4th inning, Lannan walked the opposing pitcher who then proceeded to steal second base and score after a single from the next batter.

Next, the defense was pitiful.  John Mayberry Jr. summed up 2013 defense with a Little League play in the 5th inning that allowed 3 runs to score.  He dove for a ball that he had zero chance at catching in the air, only to watch the ball sail past him into deep center field.

And then there was the awful bullpen performance.  J.C. Ramirez allowed 5 runs in one inning of work.  Jake Diekman added 2 more for the Cardinals in the 8th.

And how about that offense?  What offense, you may ask yourself.  Exactly.  The Phillies have scored 4 runs total in their last 3 games.

But the whipped topping on this sh@!! sundae has got to be all of the injuries.  Domonic Brown was pulled from the line-up with concussion symptoms.  Ben Revere, the hottest hitter in June and July, went down earlier this month with a broken foot due to a foul ball.  Ryan Howard is out with knee issues.  Roy Halladay is recovering from shoulder surgery.  And the list goes on…

The trade deadline is less than a week away.  If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has half a brain, he will begin selling as many players as he can and give this team some hope for the future.  And if he wants anyone to attend games for the rest of the year, he should scratch Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee off any possible trade list.  Anyone of the other veterans are fair game, in my humble opinion.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait for the hammer to fall…

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The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blown Save Spoils Another Cliff Lee Start

My mother had a saying: “If not for bad luck, you would not have any luck at all.”  I am sorry to say that I now need to pass that sentiment down to Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee.  Can this poor guy get a break already?

Lee’s misfortunes have certainly not all been out of his own control.  But it does seem like whenever he is on top of his game, the rest of the team lets him down.  Did he spill the salt?  Break a mirror?  Walk under a ladder?  Or did a black cat cross his path?

Whatever is causing the bad mojo seriously needs to stop.  Lee went 8 innings against the Dodgers allowing only 2 hits and 1 run on a solo homer that probably should have been caught.  And he would have kept pitching if his team had scored more than 1 run for him.  But he had to be pulled for a pinch hitter.

In a game that wound up going 12 innings, the Phillies basically lost it in that first inning when John Mayberry Jr. failed to utilize his 6’6” frame to reach up and catch that home run ball which barely made it over the fence.  Because the way Lee was pitching, he would have easily pitched all 9 innings and had a 1-0 win.  Instead, the game went to extra innings.

And although it took them until the 10th inning, the offense finally scored some runs.  The Dodgers walked the bases loaded and then Hunter Pence came through with a clutch hit for the 2nd day in a row.  That singled scored 2 runs and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead with their closer ready to come in for the bottom of the 10th.

But pitching for his 3rd consecutive day for the 1st time all year, Jonathan Papelbon could not get the job done.  He gave up 2 runs allowing the Dodgers to tie the game again.  This was a huge blow to the team, especially coming from a guy getting paid $50 million.  This was Papelbon’s 3rd blown save of the year; all 3 occurred in the last 7 games that he had save opportunities.

Having depleted their bullpen to get this far in the game, the Phillies were left with few options.  By the time the 12th rolled around, rookie Jake Diekman was forced into a second inning of work and he finally gave up a 2-run homer to hand the game to the Dodgers.  Diekman is not to blame though; it was unfortunate he had to be put into that situation.

So another great performance from Lee was wasted in this 5-3 loss.  The good news is that, despite this loss, the Phillies have won 2 series in a row.  They have an off-day today and will return Friday to face the Giants at home.

This next home stand will probably be the determining factor on who stays and who goes before the trade deadline.  The Phillies have to win both series to even have a chance.  Cross your fingers…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dear Phillies, Please Stop Toying With Our Emotions

After two big wins over the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Phillies failed to sweep the series with a loss on Thursday.  And the Rockies are a team they very well should have swept.

The first two victories gave fans hope that this struggling team might finally be getting their act together.  They played well and showed a winning attitude.  But last night’s disaster saw those hopes dashed and frustration set it once again.

It is not that they lost the game.  This is baseball; losses happen.  The issue is how they lost the game.

Let us begin by looking at the opposing pitcher, Jeff Francis.  This guy had a minor league deal with the Reds this year, who finally released him.  The Rockies picked him up and Francis had a 12.46 ERA in 2 starts for them coming into this game.  This is a guy that the Phillies should have absolutely pounded.

Instead, they left 7 men on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.  Worse than that, the Phillies continue to fail to score runners from 3rd with less than 2 outs.  In the 2nd inning, Jimmy Rollins, who homered to start the game, popped out with 1 out and a man on third.  J-Roll had 2 pop-outs and a ground ball double play to go with his solo homer in this game.

Then in the 8th, the Phillies squandered a lead-off double by Ty WiggintonHunter Pence struck out swinging at a crap pitch…again.  Carlos Ruiz flied out and Shane Victorino popped out to end the inning.  Both Pence and Victorino walked back to the dugout to a chorus of boo’s from the frustrated fans who are tired of watching the same mistakes over and over and over…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley and his bone-chip plagued elbow were a bit shaky.  But he kept the team in the game and walked off the mound to a 2-1 score with the Phillies trailing.  Still, he did all he could.

But the bullpen failed once again.  Chad Qualls had a bad inning but escaped without allowing a run thanks to a good defensive play by Ruiz at home plate.  Still, Qualls heard the boo’s too as his season has been much worse than you would expect from a veteran bullpen guy.

The problem there is that the rest of the pen is mostly rookies who are clearly not ready for the bigs.  Between Jake Diekman and Michael Schwimer, the Rockies padded their lead to a 4-1 score.

Down by 3 runs in the 9th, there would be no comeback on this day as the Phillies went down in order.  Yes, right back to the old 2012 ways we have become so accustomed to this season.

A 3-game series with the Rays begins tonight and fans can only pray for a miracle.  Cliff Lee will try, once again, to get his first win of the season.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

An UnbeLEEvable Let Down

So this is what I get for being optimistic…a clunker from Cliff Lee.  Ugh.  The Phillies lost the 3-game series to the Red Sox today with a 5-1 loss.  Lee still does not have a win on the season, although the previous losses were not his fault.

The offense kept letting Lee down.  Today, it was Lee’s turn :O(  The first batter he faced smacked a home run to center, which was not a good omen.  Through 7 innings, Lee surrendered 5 runs, all of which came in the first 3 innings.  Lee found his groove after that, but it was too late.

The offense simply stunk again.  Lee created the most excitement at the plate with a double in the 3rd.  But while there was plenty of action at second base, the Phillies could not seem to find home plate.

Hunter Pence had two hits in the game and missed what may have been a third hit except that it was lined sharply to first.  I do not know why the Red Sox were belly aching about having less defense with David Ortiz at first base due to National League rules, because Big Papi snagged every ball that came his way.  He was quite annoying.

But Big Papi also had a little fun with rookie Freddy Galvis when they met at first base.  Galvis had one hit in the game and played amazing defense, like usual.  And now, he has been officially baptized in the majors as Ortiz appeared to razz him a bit.  Although the look on Galvis’ face in the photo to the far right below says about all you need to know about how this game went…

But do you want to know what the real problem with the Phillies offense is?  For starters, Jimmy Rollins has been quietly having an awful year.  He is batting .229.  Shane Victorino is not far off with a .253 average.  Essentially, all of the regular starters (meaning, those not on the DL) are underperforming while the “bench” guys or secondary starters are doing most of the damage.

Oh, and the other issue.  A photo is worth a thousand words (see photo to the right)…need I say more?

In the “good news” column, Jake Diekman appears to be back on track after one bad outing.  He was really sharp as he struck out the side in the 8th inning.

The Phillies squeaked out one run in the bottom of the 8th, but left the bases loaded…again.  They seem to be allergic to home plate.  Benadryl, anyone?  Ah-chooo!

And just in time, when the offense has begun to stink again, here come the Nationals…Game 1 is Monday night at 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

5 in a Row!

Winning 5 games in a row seemed an impossible task for the Phillies until now.  Their longest win streak of the season previous to this one was only 2 games.  They have also gone above the .500 mark for the first time since the first game of the year.

Even having Roy Halladay on the mound has been no guarantee of a win this year as the offense has underperformed.  Against the Cubs on Thursday night, Halladay finally got some run support and had a good game himself as well.

Over 8 innings, Halladay allowed 3 runs, 2 of which were solo homers.  But he was even hotter at the plate, going 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored.  Only 3 other Phillies had multi-hit nights,

One of those guys was Halladay’s battery mate, Carlos Ruiz.  To say Ruiz is on fire right now is an understatement.  He is scorching every pitch that comes his way.  In this game, Ruiz went 4 for 5 with 3 RBI and he is now hitting .363.  He even stole a base.  Wow.

Juan Pierre continues to nip at Ruiz’s heels with a .343 average and 2 more hits in last night’s game.  Pierre also made several outstanding grabs in left field.

But while the offense was cooking and it looked like this game might be a laugher, the all too familiar bullpen monster reared its ugly head again.  With an 8-3 lead in the 9th, we saw the other side of rookie Jake Diekman.  Two games ago, he was spectacular in his major league debut.  But last night, he was the exact opposite…awful.

Diekman walked 2 batters, hit a third batter and then gave up a bases-clearing double.  The score narrowed to 8-6 with 2 outs and Jonathan Papelbon had to be brought in to close the game.  He allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced, making the total line for Diekman 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning.  Yikes!

Papelbon did finally get the job done, but the final score was a frighteningly close 8-7.  And the “other” side of Diekman was not something we would ever like to see again.

So the Phillies are heading home for a 3-game interleague series with the Red Sox.  Game 1 starts at 7:05pm tonight.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

From the Minors to The Moon: Extras Help Phillies to a Win

In a 9-2 win over the Cubs Wednesday night, 6 of those 9 runs were produced by pinch hitters.  Many of the “extra” pieces the Phillies picked up over the last few weeks contributed to the win.

Even the starting pitcher sort of came “off the bench.”  With no warning, Kyle Kendrick was thrust into the starting role when Vance Worley unexpectedly went on the DL with elbow soreness.  Kendrick has had a rough year being pushed and pulled from the bullpen to the rotation and back again.  But on this night, he managed to pull a great performance seemingly out of the air.

Kendrick allowed only 1 earned run through 6 innings and did walk anyone.  He also had an unearned run on a routine fly ball that Juan Pierre dropped in left field.  Luckily, that was the only major blunder for the Phillies that night.

It did not look like Kendrick would get much run support as the Phillies took turns leaving men all over the base paths, especially on third base with less than 2 outs.  Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were the worst offenders with 7 and 5 men left on base, respectively.  Victorino did manage 1 RBI though while Pence, again, went hitless.

Freddy Galvis and Carlos Ruiz picked up their teammates, both with 2 hits in the game.  Ruiz is making a strong bid for an All-Star spot with his team leading .343 average and many clutch hits.

With a 2-2 tie going into the 7th, the Phillies bench came into play in a big way.  In his first Phillies at-bat, Mike Fontenot singled and later in the game, scored a run.  Ty Wigginton came off the bench in the 9th and gave the Phillies some breathing room with a 2-run single.

But the big blast came from the Moon Man, Hector Luna, in his first Phillies at-bat.  “Luna” means “moon” in several languages, including Latin, Italian and Spanish.  And Luna went straight to the moon with his first career grand slam in the 9th, giving the Phillies a huge 7 run lead.

Yet another new Phillie entered into the 9th as well.  Raul Valdes pitched the bottom of the inning and nailed down the 9-2 win without any drama.  The night before, Jake Diekman made his major league debut and got 4 outs to end the game, also minus the usual bullpen drama.  These two guys are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one is a rookie and the other an experienced veteran.  But together, they may signal very good news for this weak Phillies pen.

And this win is also very good news as the Phillies finally reach the .500 mark at 19-19 for the first time in weeks.  They have not been over .500 since Opening Day.  Perhaps they can accomplish that task tonight in Game 2 with the Cubs?  Game time is 8:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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