It’s been an ugly spring for Jonathan Papelbon so far. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It’s only spring training. None of this means anything.
This axiom is well known, well founded, and true. Spring training statistics are often a poor barometer of how a player or a team is going to perform once the regular season starts.
That said, the Phillies pitching staff right now is about as stable as Amanda Bynes after an all-night glue-sniffing and mushroom-eating bender.
In 10 official Grapefruit League games, the Phils’ collective staff ERA is 6.31. Only two teams have a worse ERA so far than the Phillies, Arizona (6.40) and the L.A. Angels (7.47).
This does not count the 15 runs and 28 hits the staff surrendered to a staggeringly awesome Dominican Republic lineup yesterday. Which is a good thing, because that would have pushed the team’s collective ERA to, oh I don’t know, about a jillion.
Especially thankful for that fact was Cole Hamels, who gave up 12 hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings against “The Republic” yesterday. Of course, Hamels was working on fastball location, which led to DR hitters pounding the ever-living crap out of him.
And that’s what happens in the spring. Established pitchers don’t worry about results. They’re too busy workin’ on stuff.
Hamels, by the way, has been one of the bright spots this spring, yet to yield an earned run in five innings of “official” Grapefruit League play. John Lannan (1 ER in 5 IP), Roy Halladay (2 ER in 4 1/3 IP), Cliff Lee (3 ER in 5 IP) and Adam Morgan (1 ER in 4 2/3 IP) have also looked sharp thus far.
Mike Adams, Phillippe Aumount, Chad Durbin and Ethan Martin all have yet to give up a run out of the bullpen yet, and Antonio Bastardo has also looked solid, giving up just one run in three appearances so far.
Other than that, Phils pitchers have been ducking for cover so far this spring.
Jonathan Papelbon is sporting a hefty 43.20 ERA (8 ER in 1 2/3 IP), Jonathan Pettibone isn’t far behind with an 18.00 ERA, with Jeremy Horst, B.J. Rosenberg, Mike Stutes, Tyler Cloyd, J.C. Ramirez, Kyle Kendrick and Justin De Fratus all sporting ERAs in double digits.
So, is this something to be worried about?
Certainly not! Because the old axiom, “it’s only spring training” is absolutely true.
Pitchers are still working on their stuff. Most of the spots on the pitching staff have been sewn up. There are no rotation spots to win, so Kyle Kendrick can tinker with his pitches and mechanics and not worry about getting blasted by the Baltimore Orioles in a spring training game. Papelbon doesn’t have to worry about getting destroyed in two separate spring outings. Closers need that adrenaline rush, and Paps is still working on getting his repertoire and control together.
Not only that, weather conditions in Florida can be hairy sometimes, and it seems as though the Phils have been involved in some wind-aided, high-scoring games so far this spring.
There are three bullpen jobs up for grabs, so the only folks who should be really concerned about their performances this spring are some of the young relievers battling it out for those spots. Aumont certainly looks like he’s pushing to make the opening day roster, but De Fratus, Jake Diekman, Horst, Stutes and Cloyd are all vying for spots in the ‘pen as well.
It would probably behoove some of them to get their ERAs down below 10.00.
Still, there are 23 games left before the Phils have to make a final decision on their final 25-man roster. There is plenty of time for the staff to turn things around.
That said, it’s a little disturbing to see so many hard-hit balls off Phillies pitching this spring.
But as long as Hamels isn’t facing a line-up full of All-Stars every time out, as long as Lee’s pinpoint control continues to be there, as long as Halladay’s velocity continues to improve, and as long as Papelbon can get a couple decent outings under his belt, there really isn’t much to be concerned about.
Still, it would be nice not to see a whole lot more of this..