Technically a mop-up guy comes into a game that has already been blown open and has the chore of sorting out the damage, but in the young Phillies season the term could be applied to Roy Halladay who will make his second straight start immediately following a Joe Blanton nightmare. This is what Blanton does in April and May. He’s hardly worth his contract in the 2nd half of the season, but in the early months he’s been absolutely dreadful as a Phillie. Roy’s on pace to make 32 starts after a Blanton loss this year. Just add that to your fun, early season stat pile.
It’s hard to figure out exactly what leads to Blanton’s failures early on. He seems to be in reasonable condition (for him). He had a full workload in Spring Training. It’s almost as if the guy forgets how to pitch over the winter and has to re-learn the process every year. His quotes after the game yesterday were odd, talking about going back to look at video from 2009 when he had a similar problem. Work at your own pace, Joe. If you want to check that out after you got rocked the 2nd time, that’s great. If you want to get rocked one more time, just to confirm everything, that’s cool too. We’ll be waiting for you to regain your, “best 5th starter in baseball” form.
Not too much went right for the Phillies last night. Even the people who went down to boo Jayson Werth seemed a little deflated by the weather and then probably by Werth’s big game. I think booing him is a waste of time, but I wouldn’t begrudge people who make the effort. I like to give Werth a hard time, but I don’t think I’d actively boo him. He’s just a guy who some people didn’t like all along, kind of like Cole Hamels, so they were probably dying for the chance to let him hear it. Maybe Halladay can have better success against him and give the people headed down to Washington tonight something to cheer/boo about.
Aside from Cole’s 3-0 win over Atlanta last Sunday, the worst offensive outputs of the year have been matched with the bad pitching performances. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, or a bad thing, but if Blanton ends up being the guy this year that doesn’t get a ton of run support…look out 15 losses. For as heralded as the pitchers are, they really haven’t stolen a game for the Phils yet, and last night the offense couldn’t take advantage of a couple of shots to bail Blanton out. The big swing came in the 7th when the Phillies loaded the bases with one man out. Manuel played one of his hunches, pinch-hitting right-handed John Mayberry against Hernandez instead of Gload, and Livan punched out the rookie with some slow-bending slop. Victorino fanned to end the inning and later rallies also fell short.
It’s the third straight series opening loss for the Phillies, and Washington is a team you’d like to beat at least two out of three, so the pressure falls on Halladay to get the Phillies in position to take the series on Thursday. I doubt Roy is looking at this game as one where he has to atone for Blanton’s loss, but that is how the fans will be looking at it. Since Cliff Lee made people a little nervous last week, Roy is kind of the last sure thing we have going right now. People need that comfort. It helps them sleep at night. Halladay has owned Washington, and the Phillies have done a nice job against Lannan, so the pieces fall into place for Roy to clean things up again. We’ll see if that ends up being the case.