Don’t kill the messenger. I merely pass along the observations of others about how the Phillies’ offense sucks right now, not to make judgments myself. But of course, reasonable people can only draw so many conclusions from data.
ESPN’s stats crew — passed along in Buster Olney’s column today — noted that in yesterday’s Cards-Phillies game, Edwin Jackson threw 15 sliders out of the strike zone, and that the Phillies chased 10 of them. What’s more, Jackson — not known for his control — went to only one 2-0 count. Jackson basically junkballed the Phillies to death and they couldn’t lay off. Especially Ryan Howard who went down on strikes three times, the tenth time he has done so in the playoffs. Howard has the highest strikeout rate in postseason history.
Meanwhile, Matt Gelb of the Philly Inquirer points out that while Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have gotten the job done as best they can, the Phillies’ 3-4-5 hitters are ice cold.
Having Roy Halladay on the hill for Game 5 may all but moot this. After all, picturing him having some sort of disaster start is just not part of a reasonable person’s frame of reference, and you know that Charlie Manuel won’t take the ball out of his hands until the game is over or he hits 130 pitches, whichever comes first.
But in the off chance that Halladay isn’t Halladay, does anyone have any faith that the Philly offense is going to suddenly wake up?
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.