Phillies Fantasy Report
The Phillies squeaked by the Padres Thursday, taking two of three from San Diego as part of a 5-2 run that has Philadelphia in first place in the NL East. Philly is now a half a game ahead of the Marlins, who were swept at home by the Dodgers this week.
As per usual, power has been the Phils’ calling card, as they rank third in the NL in slugging at .445, but team speed seems to be an early weakness, as they sit just 11th in the NL in swipes (of course, injuries to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have contributed to this).
Next up, this weekend Philly hosts a weak Giants team that is actually holding its own lately. Next week comes a stiff test as the Phils visit Arizona.
Let’s take a look at some of the individual situations on the Phillies that fantasy owners should be following:
- Victorino was back in the starting lineup Thursday, batting leadoff and playing centrefield. It’s the first time he’s been there since getting hurt in middle of last month, a calf injury that landed him on the DL. There’s been talk that Victorino could see more time in right field if Jayson Werth continues to play well in centre. At any rate, Victorino got the job done Thursday, going 1-for-2 with a double, a run, and two walks. Werth, shifted to right field Thursday, has suddenly gone into a mini slump, taking an 0-for-7 over the past two games – a skid which has included five strikeouts. Geoff Jenkins, despite picking things up of late (6-for-12 in the last three games), appears to be the odd man out in this scenario.
- We saw signs of life from Ryan Howard Thursday as the slugger not only doubled, but also launched the game-winning home run in the eighth inning. It’s been a simply awful start for the 2006 MVP, batting under .170 in April and getting worse not better heading into last night. In the week leading up to Thursday’s breakout, Howard had just two hits in 16 at bats. There’s been much talk about his mechanics as the Phils have been trying to get him to move closer to the plate. Hopefully Thursday’s power display is the beginning of something good.
- The Phils are also trying to change the habits of Brett Myers, who only plays long toss for a few minutes on days he’s pitching. Both manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee believe Myers should do so three times a week to help build up arm strength. There’s been concern that Myers’ velocity is down, and the team has been trying to figure out why. It may have something to do with the fact that he’s not using his legs to their full capacity in his delivery. Perhaps he’s been babying them so he can use them to kick his wife in public? Whatever’s going on here is not helping his owners given the bitch slappings he’s taken (as opposed to administering) in his last two starts. Myers has surrendered 19 hits – including four dingers – over 12 innings during this stretch. He has now yielded ten longs balls in just 37 IP on the season. To put that in perspective, Myers gave up nine in 68 2/3 IP in 2007.
- Rollins has experienced a setback in his rehab and will not be activated on Monday, the first day he’s eligible to come off the DL, the first such assignment of his career. He had more discomfort in his sprained left ankle on Wednesday, leading to the delay. The Phils want to send Rollins on a minor league rehab consisting of four or five games, but he won’t be able to start that before next week at this point, so we’re looking at no sooner than a week from now before the defending MVP will be ready to return.
- The Phillies went 15-13 in April – their first winning April since 2003. A big part of this has been the unbelievable start by Chase Utley. He’s been healthy and putting up Nintendo-type numbers. How about 25 runs and 22 extra-base hits in 29 games? Can you say MVP?
- Brad Lidge has been lights out. So many thought he’d crack under the pressure of pitching in Philly, but so far, it’s been a walk in the park. He started the season a few days late because of a DL stint, but since his activation, Lidge has been almost untouchable, surrendering just five hits and no earned runs in 12 IP. Sick. His strikeout rate has never been this low, and he’s walking way too many, but as long as he doesn’t give up any hits, who cares? Still, I’m worried those walks will come back to haunt him at some point, making him a possible sell-high candidate.
- That job-share situation between Jenkins and Werth is clearly over. Werth has been starting almost every day for the past couple of weeks and given how many runs he’s going to score out of the two-hole and his power, Werth makes for an excellent waiver wire pickup.
- Mike Lieberthal plans to sign a one-day contract next month so he can retire as a Phillie. The team’s first rounder (third overall) back in 1990, Lieberthal hit .275 with 150 homers in 13 seasons with the Phils. Back in the day, he was a fantasy stud. In fact, in 1999, Lieberthal became just the sixth catcher in history to bat .300 with 30 homers in a season.
- Kyle Kendrick was solid in his last start, but so far has been unable to build on his strong rookie effort. He’s a decent NL-only guy to target because of the wins he’ll put up on the Phillies, but if you’re playing 5×5 ball, you probably can’t suck up Kendrick’s lame K totals.
- Prior to the season, we pegged Pedro Feliz as a good sleeper candidate, but so far he’s been a dud in Philly. An 0-for-7 stretch has him down to the Mendoza Line. Feliz simply has not been productive, and team management believes it’s because he is not being aggressive enough.