How Much Has the Phillies Awful Start Been Sensationalized?

How Much Has the Phillies Awful Start Been Sensationalized?

Look, it goes without saying that opening week was unkind to
the Phillies. They fumbled both series – one to a division rival, the other to a
perennial also-ran. Both Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels are off to the worst
starts of their career, and the pitching staff has been historically bad
through six games.

Key words: through six games.

What are six games out of 162? 3.7%.

Folks, we have a long, long, LONG way to go here. The
Fightins’ record is 2-4, not 0-6, nor even 0-16 – yet the headlines read like
they might as well be 0-162.

Not that there isn’t merit to any of the negative coverage,
but a lot of it rings hollow when put in perspective. Even our own Reuben Frank
couches his story on the pitching staff’s brutal start by pointing out it’s
based on a small sample size.

Yes, it’s only six games. Yes,
there are 156 games to go. Yes, things should get better.

Things should get
better? The Phils’ ERA is 7.10 right now. Colorado had the worst ERA in Major
League Baseball last year at 5.22. No club has finished with a figure that
reaches six during the current millennium.

Things will get
better – it’s merely a question of to what degree.

When you have somebody like Hamels in your rotation, you
would expect the numbers to rebound strongly. But then John Smallwood asks in
the Daily News what we should make of Hamels’ first two outings, leading off
with, “It is never, however, too soon to raise an eyebrow at the bad [performances].”

One really doesn’t have to go back that far to find a period
where Cole wasn’t all that sharp. It’s been awhile since he had two
back-to-back that were this gut-wrenching, but he wasn’t exactly lights out in
a pair of starts against Miami and Minnesota last June, allowing five or more
earned runs in each, with a losing effort versus the Los Angeles Dodgers
sandwiched in between.

Thankfully Smallwood too comes around by the end.

But when things get off to as a bad
a start as they have for Hamels, it's difficult to see past today and look down
the road for good things that should still come.

The same could be said for the Phillies in general. There
have been some positives, believe it or not. While a few have struggled
mightily, plenty of players have actually gotten off to good-to-great starts.

We haven't heard too much about that because “worst ever” and “historically bad” sound a tad more
sensational, even if the stats that back those statements up are flimsy
at best. Is there any need to micro-analyze the Phillies 3.7% of the way into
the season, or could we at least wait until we reach a point where the numbers actually mean something?

>> Phillies pitchers off to historically awful start [CSN]
>> What to make of Cole Hamels [DN]
>> Ryan Howard' worst first week [High Cheese]

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."