|He'll get better. Eventually.|
The first stop is back in Clearwater, Florida, where the Philadelphia Phillies have been having a bit of an interesting spring. The starting outfielder job has been locked down by Ben Francisco, thanks to a nice .368/.429/.737 line, not to mention a little bit of luck. So, with that out of the way, the two most interesting parts of Phillies camp are a) the rotation, and b) who's going to back up Wilson Valdez. Valdez, who filled in ably for Utley in 35 games (and Jimmy Rollins for 50) last year, batting .258, is off to a hot start this spring--how's .455/.514/.636 sound, Phils fans? I'm sure Valdez won't be able to keep that up, but he's certainly got a hold on the starters' spot as long as Utley can't take it. As for the rotation, it hasn't had the best of springs, but that's okay. The five starters (the Phantastic Phour plus Joe Blanton) have a combined ERA of 3.67 and a WHIP of 1.13, certainly not bad. Wait til you see what we're doing here at SportStatistics for rotation strength when it comes to the regular season!
Moving west, we also find a more settled situation out in St. Louis. Sort of. Kyle McClellan seems to be on the fast track to pitching in the rotation, putting up a very solid 0.75 ERA in 12 innings over the course of three starts. With a 3-to-1 strikeout ratio as well, McClellan has nothing to worry about at this point in the spring. Jaime Garcia, on the other hand, has to be worrying some people. His first three starts have resulted in 12 runs (10 earned) in 9 innings for a robust 10.00 ERA. We could be seeing the early signs of the dreaded sophomore slump. However, Ryan Franklin hasn't gotten a start yet and the rookies were sent back to the minors, so it seems the Cardinals have their rotation pretty much figured out: Carpenter, Lohse, Westbrook, Garcia, McClellan.
|Manny's still smiling in the Sunshine State|