Why Injuries May Not Hurt Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies look pretty fearsome with that foursome in the starting rotation. Most pundits picked them to be the NL East champs based on the fact they have Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels on the mound four out of every five days. However, injuries to Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, and Placido Polanco have caused the pundits to knock the Phillies down a peg — some are even thinking that the Braves are the favorite in the division.
Will the injuries have a significant impact on the Phillies’ chances this year? There’s one reason why they might not: their soft schedule in the first month of the season.
The Phillies play a startlingly “easy” schedule to start the season: of their first 31 games of the season, they play only 7 against teams that were better than .500 in 2010. Granted, teams change — some drastically — during the offseason. So let’s look at the teams the Phillies play in the first 5 weeks of the season:
Padres (4 game set)
The strength of their schedule picks up considerably beginning on May 6th and through the rest of the month, but, right now, it looks like they’ll have a fairly easy time until that date.
Of course, just because teams “look” weak on paper does not necessarily mean that the schedule will play out that way — that’s why they play the games, of course. Further, the injuries to Lidge and Utley could extend beyond the first week of May; in Utley’s case, he could be out until the All-Star break. Finally, there are some people who would argue that the team could be better without the volatile Lidge.
Take it for what you want. I just wanted to point out that the old adage “timing is everything” could have an effect on the rhythm of the baseball season.