Despite the struggles of Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels through the first two-plus months of the 2013 season, the anchor for this Phillies team has been its starting pitching. And much of it has come from unexpected places.
Cliff Lee has been brilliant, as just about everyone thought he would be. Kyle Kendrick has been an unexpected revelation. Hamels, up and down for much of this year, has had numerous brilliant starts mixed in with some clunkers.
But what has kept the Phillies above water, and what helped them finally get above the .500 mark for the first time this year, has been the performances of AAA call-ups Jonathan Pettibone and last night’s starter Tyler Cloyd.
Cloyd pitched his best game yet as a Phillie, going 6 2/3 innings while giving up no runs on four hits and five walks, helping lead the Phils to a 5-1 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee last night.
The Phillies now have 42 quality starts in 2013, most of which are directly responsible for their 31-30 record. The offense has been a downright mess at times this year, although that has improved greatly over the last five games. The Phils have scored 32 runs during this five-game winning streak, their longest of the season. That’s an average of about 6.5 runs per game.
But what has carried this team this year is its starting pitching. And given how good it’s been, five-to-six runs a game is going to net the Phils a whole lot of wins.
The Phils are also doing damage against the soft underbelly of their schedule right now. After losing two of three to the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park last week, they have swept the Marlins and taken the first game from a Milwaukee crew that is among the worst in baseball. They have three more with these same Brewers this weekend, and then three games against the hapless Twins, a 10-game stretch that gives the Phillies a golden opportunity to bank some victories against some of the stinkiest teams in the league.
So far, they’re beating who they’re supposed to beat.
And Cloyd has been as effective as anyone had a right to expect since he was called up. In five starts he is 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA. Like Pettibone, Cloyd has done a good job at stranding baserunners, to the tune of a 74.6% strand rate. That’s probably not sustainable, and the five walks he issued last night would probably hurt him against a better team. Still, the Phillies are 9-5 in games in which Pettibone or Cloyd has started.
Simply put, they’re doing the job a #4 and #5 starter should do. Manager Charlie Manuel said Cloyd once again last night, did his job.
“He definitely made good pitches when he had to, and he took us to a good spot in the game and we held,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He did an outstanding job.” – quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki
Frankly, Cloyd and Pettibone have saved the Phils’ bacon this year. There’s no way they could have been expected to survive both the crushing injury to Halladay and the terrible mix of ineffectiveness and bad luck that Hamels has experienced this year. Kendrick gets a lion’s share of the credit too. But the Phillies could not have expected to do as well with Pettibone and Cloyd making as many starts as they have.
Offensively, the Phils employed a new look with Michael Young at the top of the lineup, something someone very, very smart suggested they do about a month ago. And, it worked, as Young collected three hits on the night, while John Mayberry continued to swing a hot bat with an RBI double and three hits total. Delmon Young also added a solo home run.
With the win, the Phils moved a game closer to Atlanta, and are now 6 1/2 games back in the NL East, and 4 1/2 games back of the Wild Card.
The days of the Phillies being sellers at the deadline are seeming more and more remote with each passing win.
Where It All Went Right
When the Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out in the first and actually scored two runs. The Phils employed some effective small ball last night, with a Howard sacrifice fly and a wild pitch-plated run in the first. Erik Kratz also came through with an effective at bat in the third, hitting a grounder up the middle with a runner on third and less than two out, plating a run. Kratz, by the way, is hitting .289 (11 for 38) with 4 HRs and 10 RBIs in his last 11 games.
Cloyd, who despite having rather pedestrian stuff, continues to make the most out of what he has.
The Brewers’ bullpen, who have allowed just one run in 14 2/3 innings against the Phils this season. They’re mean, and we don’t like them.
So Michael young its leading off. **Phillies enter stadium carrying banner that reads”We demand to be taken seriously.”**
— Justin Klugh (@TBOHblog) June 6, 2013
It’s the bottom of the third and it’s 9:24 already. This game started at 8:05, right? What is this, Red Sox-Yankees?
— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) June 7, 2013