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]

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Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.