The current slump shows it. The blown save last night proves it. Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies have some problems that no one expected them to have this year. Pitching has shown so far this season that it is the Phillies main weakness. The Phils have showed that they have elite defense, that they have elite hitting prowess, and most of all, they have proved that they have what it takes to win a championship.
Coming into the season, after the Phillies gave 2008 MLB World Series MVP Cole Hamels a huge contract, re-signed Jamie Moyer, and signed versatile Chan Ho Park, it seemed that the Phils had it all. Sure, they had let go of longtime Phillie Pat Burrell, but he was getting to be a liability out in left field, but they had gained reliable Raul Ibanez. Now that they had added Park, and Hamels finally pitched like the ace that most Phillies Phans envisioned him, they seemed to be heavy favorites to repeat as NL East Champs.
After the first 33 games, it seems that most sports writers and critics were completely wrong about the Phillies. If you would have said that the Phillies main problem would be pitching, and that every single one of the starting 5 would have an ERA of over 4.80, then most of those critics and writers would have called you crazy. Maybe the starting five just needed a couple of starts to get themselves settled in, but the pitching woes have seemed to advance all throughout the staff.
The bullpen which was oh so reliable last year, now have four blown saves among them. Two of those four belong to closer Brad Lidge. Last year the whole Phillies staff had nine the whole year, with none coming from Lidge.
Now because of the pitching problems , we find ourselves sitting in a tie for 2nd place with the Atlanta Braves, two games behind the New York Mets. Throughout the season, our players have shown that they have improved their defense, which was problem for Ryan Howard. Now, the roles are reversed. We need our pitching staff to get ahold of itself before we dig ourselves a huge hole.
Sure, it is only a month and a half into the season, but in order to win down the stretch, we are going to need to trust our starters to go deep in the game and win us some games. If our pitchers can do that, then the defense will only get better, and hitters will feel less pressure to score 10 runs a game just to have a chance to win. The pitching staff will prove to be the X-Factor this year, and will be the key to repeating as NL Champs, and even World Champions.