During their recent 2-8 run, the Atlanta Braves have gone 9-1 to take over first place and drop the Phillies 3 games back. While it’s still only the first week of June, being 3 games back is unfamiliar territory around here the past 2 seasons.
Yesterday, Jimmy Rollins returned from his rehab in Florida to host his annual bowling tournament to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. Typically, it’s just a fun thing to do on an off day to raise some money for charity. Let’s hope it does more than that this year. Getting an off day in the middle of a slump could be a great thing. Gives the players a chance to get their minds off of what’s going on and just be themselves.
Charlie Manuel recently said the team was too relaxed before games recently, but I think that is what suits this team. They are relaxed and having fun before the game, but once the game starts, they usually know when to flip the switch. That switch hasn’t been flipped on the past couple of weeks. They need to figure out how to do that again.
Ryan Howard has been downright terrible since singing that huge contract. He usually goes through slumps, but he’s just been bad recently. Chase Utley is right there with him. He can’t seem to get anything in order right now. Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino & the rest of the regulars are all struggling as well. Don’t even get started on the bench. That’s a whole other mess.
Slumps happen in baseball, it’s part of the game. It’s just rare to see a team of the Phillies’ caliber all struggling at the same time. They’d be able to overcome it if it was just a player or two, but the whole lineup needs to wake up. There have been suggestions on bringing up Domonic Brown to shock the players out of it, but I think that’s a bit premature. The team will come around, it’s just a matter of when.
What’s interesting is how bad the Phillies have been when Rollins is out of the lineup. Is he really that much of a catalyst for the rest of the team? We all know he’s an important part of the lineup, but this important? Without him, the offense can barely muster a run or two a game.
The slump will end soon. It has to right? With Roy Halladay pitching for the first time since his perfect game, tonight would be a good time to start the turnaround.
Thinking back, maybe Mick Billmeyer’s binoculars were more important than we all thought…