May 08, 2005

Baby steps

Benefiting from back-to-back strong outings from Cory Lidle and Jon Lieber, the last-place Phillies get exacly what they needed - two wins against the struggling Cubs, losers of their last seven.

The bad news for the Phils: They've gained no ground in the NL East, where every team is riding a two-game winning streak or more.

But the Phightins know they must start somewhere. Exploiting the Cubs weakness - their bullpen - has been the logical first step.

Meanwhile, the Phils pen has been the as-advertised strength, as the new set-up / closer combo of Ryan Madson and Billy Wagner looks ... not perfect, but formidable. Madson, in particular, was money yesterday, notching two key strikeouts and bailing the Phils out of a tight spot in the eighth.

With Mads and Wags in back, the Phils can proceed with confidence to win close games. Who knew removing Tim Worrell from the equation could be such a simple answer? With Cormier back in the fold, they have three solid options.

Cory Lidle and Jon Lieber
I don't have the opportunity to use my Lidle paragraph template because he pitched longer than six innings Friday. He was excellent, baffling Cubs hitters with his changeup and sinker. Lidle has only allowed one home run all season, and with the wind blowing out at Wrigley, his performance was even more remarkable.

If Lidle is a "No. 5," he's among the best fives in baseball, earning about $3 million this season, also making him one of the better bargains out there.

As for Jon Lieber, he was just as good yesterday, surrendering only a homer to Cory Patterson in the first inning.

Unlike Lidle, Lieber has given up an unusually high amount of homers (8), but it's hard to complain. The way he bores down on left-handers inside is amazing, and it's a treat watching a pitcher work as fast as he does.

The biggest concern is still their offense, and though they've won two straight, they continue to display some disconcerting trends. Namely, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell are striking out a lot. It's pretty simple: If the heart of the order strikeouts out, the offense will struggle to score runs.

I've rarely seen a player look like he's thinking more at the plate than Pat the Bat, and when it looks like he's laboring, that's when you get Ks like the one he took in his last AB yesterday. Geesh. Even my back hurt after watching that wrenching cut.


At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Tom G said...

You are right about Lieber vs. LHB's. I just love to watch him pitch against them inside.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

Holy cow ... I posted about a second ago!

Lieber is fun to watch. Very, very consistent. Even when he gets tired, it's been the same thing - his sinker gets up in the zone, so you know when it's time to lift him. I would taken him out after seven yesterday.

With Lieber, you know exactly what you're going to get every time. It makes it difficult to have patience with guys like Wolf and Padilla, doesn't it?

At 8:04 PM, Blogger That Dude said...

It's odd because Lieber IS fun to watch and NOT for the usual reasons people like to watch a pitcher pitch (flashy K's, high mph)

I firmly believe the way he pitches in terms of efficiency should become the standar in terms of teaching throughout the organization.


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