Today feels like Chase Utley Eulogy Day. And for good reason– it’s obvious that the Phillies’ current run of success is coming to an end, if not now, then soon.
But reports of the Phillies’ death have been greatly exaggerated.
The team won 102 games last season with tons of injuries. They’ve upgraded at closer. And, most importantly, they still have perhaps the three best pitchers in the National League.
Jonah Keri, author of The Extra 2%, penned an article for Grantland today, and while he admits that it’s bad, the SABR nerd also points out that the Phillies most likely remain the favorites to win (their sixth straight) NL East title: [Grantland]
It still might not matter. Use whatever attempts at logic you want to explain away last year's 102 wins (expected record based on runs scored and runs allowed was 103); the bottom line is this team was and is built on outrageously great starting pitching. Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels are great bets to vie for Cy Young honors again this year — if anything, Hamels's (sic) trends suggest another possible step up this season. Vance Worley got dismissed as a fluke, but he struck out batters at a higher rate than Hamels and a similar rate to Lee. Even a healthy Joe Blanton projects as a league-average pitcher, a great luxury to have in a fifth starter, assuming the Phillies don't dump his salary.
This is worth a read before you lock yourself in a room and watch Utley’s World Fucking Champions speech on loop (but the video is after the jump, in case you need to see it… and I’m not even joking when I say that, after writing the last sentence, I caught myself watching it… three times).