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?
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