Phillies In Early Trouble

SHORTHANDED PHILLIES IN EARLY TROUBLE

The Philadelphia Phillies knew they might have some troubles playing to championship form at the start of the 2012 season because both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out with injuries. But, they sure weren't expecting a 1-3 start against the likes of Pittsburgh and Miami!

After a poor weekend series in Pittsburgh that required a shutout from Roy Halladay just to secure one victory, the Phils lost their home opener Monday to Miami in decisive fashion. Let's check the key numbers from that game...and briefly peruse the rest of this poor start that Las Vegas oddsmakers have been very slow to react to.

MIAMI 6, PHILADELPHIA 2
Total Bases + Walks: Miami 23, Philadelphia 8
Starters:
Sanchez:  6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 K, 1 BB
Hamels:  5.1 IP, 3 ER, 9 K, 0 BB
Vegas Line: Philadelphia -140, total of 7

Our offensive bases stat turns a baseball score into a football score. This was basically a 24-7 laugher for the road underdog. If the Marlins knew how to draw walks, this could have been an even bigger blowout. With NO free passes, the Marlins still put plenty on the board thanks to three home runs, three doubles, and five singles. The Phillies scored what they were supposed to score with eight bases, and weren't much of a threat in this game. That's telling all by itself because a championship contender that just lost two games to a bad team should be as fired up as can be to play well in their home opener. Surely, with Cole Hamels on the mound, they expected to be competitive.

Those expectations, and the expectations of the market so far seem to be out of line. This ISN'T last year's Phillies team...or even the squad from the past few years. They've gotten older...and Howard and Utley can't even play yet. Vegas is pricing perceptions. You need to be sure you're dealing with the current reality of the team.

Today's result may not have been a fluke. Miami has upgraded their talent thanks to a free-spending owner in the first year of a new stadium. Forget about 2011 or 2010. Put THIS Miami roster on the field against THIS Philadelphia roster, and it's hard to make the case that the Phillies are the better team. Maybe -140 is right when Howard and Utley are back.

Here's a quick review of the key numbers in the Pittsburgh series for Philly.

Game One
PHILADELPHIA 1, PITTSBURGH 0
Total Bases + Walks: Philadelphia 11, Pittsburgh 2
Starters:
Halladay:  8 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
Bedard:  7 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB
Vegas Line: Philadelphia -150, total of 7

It took a gem from Halladay to get the win. He only allowed two singles on the day, completely shutting down the Bucs. For their part, the Phils offense could only turn 11 offensive basis into one run. And, 11 offensive bases is low for what this team was supposed to be doing this year to begin with. Remember, this is the HIGH point of the season so far for the Phils! We will consider backing Halladay at affordable prices...or playing the Under when he's on the mound given the current state of affairs.

Game Two
PITTSBURGH 2, PHILADELPHIA 1
Total Bases + Walks: Philadelphia 10, Pittsburgh 11
Starters:
Lee:  6 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 2 BB
Karstens:  6 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 1 BB
Vegas Line: Philadelphia -160, total of 6.5

Only seven singles and three walks for the Phils...meaning no extra base hits against a vulnerable pitcher like Karstens. Just one bigger blow might have been enough to swing the game given the low production from both teams. Not a great start if you're a ticket holder and you want to see runs. The top of the Phils rotation is still lethal, which is why many pundits figured they'd be able to weather the injury story. They'll need more offense than this though, particular in Vegas terms where expectations are so high. Lee will need to go further than 6 innings with more than 4 strikeouts before we lay any lumber with him. Unders may still be worth some thought against quality opposing pitchers.

Game Three
PITTSBURGH 5, PHILADELPHIA 4
Total Bases + Walks: Philadelphia 13, Pittsburgh 18
Starters:
Worley:  6 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 1 BB
McDonald:  6 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 2 BB
Vegas Line: Philadelphia -125, total of 7.5

It took a homer and a double from Hunter Pence just to get the Phils up near a normal range of production, but it was still less than what the Pirates accomplished on this day. Again, we see solid pitching from the Phils rotation. It's early in the season and you don't want everyone throwing a million innings. It's the lack of offense that's holding the team down to this point.  Worley doesn't get as much respect as the other Phils starters...so we will consider him at value prices. We'd prefer he go longer than six innings though.

Offensive Bases
11-10-13 in the three games at Pittsburgh
8 Monday in the home opener vs. Miami

You can't ask the pitching staff to throw shutouts every day. The offense needs to reach 14-18 bases consistently to have a clean shot at winning regularly with the current rotation...and 16-20 ish regularly with occasional explosions if they want to be thought of as championship material.

Remember...Vegas is pricing the Phils like they're contenders! Oddsmakers tend to price off the name of the starting pitcher rather than on the overall quality of the team. This current roster makeup is going to have expensive pitchers getting backed by potentially little run support.

Every team has a story...and this looks like it's going to be the story for the Phils until some bats warm up or their injured players get healthy. What about the other 29 teams? We'll do our best to talk about them in the coming days and weeks here in the NOTEBOOK. But...we'll also be covering the NBA down the stretch and through the playoffs. The best way to profit from daily developments is to sign up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

You can do that online with your credit card, or by calling the office at 1-800-323-4453. If you want to try things out on a day-by-day basis...BIG JUICY WINNERS are up a few hours before first pitch right here at this website. There are two day games on Tuesday (Pittsburgh-LAD and Tampa Bay-Detroit), so check in early just in case we're making a move in one of those games.

Games of interest for us Tuesday in MLB:
St. Louis at Cincinnati
Washington at NY Mets
Boston at Toronto
Seattle at Texas

NBA matchups of interest tonight:
Boston at Miami on ESPN
New York at Chicago on ESPN

Yes...already a rematch of that great Knicks-Bulls game from this past Sunday....preceded by one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star Break (Boston) facing the current betting favorite to go the distance.  Be sure to check the box ads here at this website during the day for our likely TV Terror and all the other big plays in the baskets and the bases.

It's just impossible right now to do justice to all the major breaking stories in both MLB and NBA here in the NOTEBOOK. We'll do our best to get provide information that will help do-it-yourselfers make better decisions. The BIG MONEY is just a few clicks away thanks to JIM HURLEY!

19
Nov

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