Phillies: Two cracks appear in their new, improved surface

The wonderful thing about early-season MLB competition, beyond the simple strangeness of early stats, is that everybody with an opinion is almost guaranteed to be proven wrong. And there is no team better at proving their observers wrong than the Philadelphia Phillies.

Just about a week ago, for example, one silly fellow was declaring that Phillies pitching “may just be enough after all.” This conclusion might now be called a reach and a half based on one interesting and highly promising game, one in which second-line starters and relievers stepped up.

Mere days later, the Phillies 5-1 start had slammed into reverse after a 1-4 showing in which the single win depended on a blown call against the Braves.

The Phillies new and improved roster is now showing a couple of cracks.

Well, .500 baseball is nothing new in Philadelphia. What another week of baseball has shown Phillies’ observers, however, is that there are emerging question marks about the team, and one of them could be their pitching as a whole.

Yes, two weeks of play have demonstrated some improvement in the bullpen. But that’s just another way of saying only one team win sits in a starting pitcher’s log. Zack Wheeler was 1-1 before play Apr. 14, when he was scheduled to start against his old team, the Mets.

In terms of aggregate ERA, the Phillies starters had posted a 3.91 ERA after dropping a doubleheader to the Mets Apr. 13, and yes, that may be “good enough” in the long run, but it may well also be that four-slot starter Matt Moore will have to disappear. His ERA through two appearances stood at 7.56.

The lone left-hander in the group, Moore, came out of the gate with a 2.04 WHIP as well, which rates a modest “Yikes!” only because it’s still early.

That Philly’s no. 1 and no. 3 starters, Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin had an aggregate record of 0-1 after averaging better than six innings in their five starts is also a testament to a somewhat sputtering offense.

Run production in general seems to be the Phillies second, very large question mark. Only J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius seem to be firing on all cylinders, with .324 and .317 averages, respectively, and 15 RBI between them.

Through 11 games, the Phillies were averaging only 3.73 runs a game, not the offensive production many assumed they would have. The center field platoon of Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn was looking particularly weak.

It could be time for manager Joe Girardi to consider playing one or the other of these players for a week or ten days in a row to see if their hit totals – Haseley has four, Quinn one – might improve.

However, the two emerging problems for the Phillies appear to be larger than the struggles of two young, largely inexperienced players.