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.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. JerrysKids April 1, 2011 at 10:59 am
    Injuries will hurt the Phillies. Regression will hurt the Phillies. Braves will win the division.
  2. Joe April 1, 2011 at 11:58 am
    I’d say their starting rotation will cushion the blow though it will depend on how their fill-in closer does.

    The Braves/Phillies as a whole are not too far apart, so it’s fairly easy to say that the injuries can be the difference maker. But, recent years suggests not counting either out.

  3. John April 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm
    The Phillies are a very tough team to handicap. They are an old, really old team. If they play to past performance they should win going away.
    But it is not inconceivable that Ibanez becomes Moises Alou, Ryan Howard continues his slow regression, Chase Utley is never the same player, Jimmy Rollins really has become the .250 hitter he has been the last two years. At some point Oswalt’s and Lee’s backs will finally give out for good, and the inning count finally catches up to Halliday.
    Do I think all of these things will happen this year. No (although i think Rollins is finished) but some probably will. Baseball is still a young man’s game (except maybe for some Designated Hitters) and the Phillies are pushing the limit.

    But I could be wrong.

  4. Joe April 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm
    If they are going to win games like today, and they and the Braves “steal” games like that repeatedly, boo you know hoo to their injuries.