I went to the Indians v. Phillies game Wednesday night and after all was said and done, I was quite pleased with the result. It ended with a walk-off two run homerun by the finally healthy (again) Jimmy Rollins. But the way the Phils got to that point showed some of the team's weaknesses.
Bullpen - Following the Phillies 7-6 victory over the Indians Wednesday night, the team placed RHP Chad Durbin on the 15-day DL. Durbin has been solid for the Phils in the back end of the bullpen sporting a 3.31 ERA. With him going down, Danys Baez sucking big time, Ryan Madson still on the DL after getting pissed at a chair and unprovens such as Mike Zagurski and Nelson Figueroa in the pen, the Phillies need to add a pitcher to the back end of the bullpen at or before the trade deadline.
Starting Pitcher - Kyle Kendrick lasted only 4.0+ innings giving up five runs, four earned. He left balls over the middle of the plate and when you can't get Cleveland hitters out, that may be saying something. The Phillies have been waiting for J.A. Happ to come back to the roataion for some time now and it looks as though he should be back within a couple weeks. But the thing is, you don't at all know how effective he's going to be after coming back from being on the DL for so long.
If Kyle Kendrick spots his pitches on the corners and stays away from deep counts, he can be a good pitcher. But when he doesn't, he becomes a batting practice pitcher. If the Phillies could get a starting pitcher at the deadline to help bolster their rotation, it would certainly make them a better team come playoff time. Usually in the postseason teams go with three starting pitchers. So the Phillies' would be Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and then...?
Bench - Greg Dobbs was a pinch hit machine back in the championship year of 2008. He broke the Phillies record for pinch hits in a season and every time he was called upon that year, you knew that you were going to get a quality at-bat. But pinch hitters are as unpredictable year-by-year as NBA draft picks. Dobbs was a whopping 1-for-25 this season as a pinch hitter and simply wasn't getting the job done.
So the Phillies find themselves one lefty bat short on the bench and are going to need to fill that hole by the end of the season if they have plans of going anywhere in October. Valdez, Castro and Fransisco are all right-handed and the only lefty bats are Schneider who, as the back-up catcher, won't be available to pinch hit on most nights and Ross Gload. The Phillies need a left-handed bat off the bench.
Before the Phillies begin thinking about who they're going to play in the NLCS or the World Series in 2010, they need to get into the playoffs. As of today, the Phils are 2.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. I have no doubt that by the end of the regular season the Phillies will be the ones atop the division, but in order for that to happen some changes need to be made.