Phantasy Philes: A Pitching Slump

In this week's edition of the Philes, we'll take a look at the starters that have struggled of late and determine whether it's something to worry about or not. In addition, as always, we'll have our non-Phillie of the week to help you fill those holes in your fantasy rosters.

Bad pitching has been a problem for the Phils over the last week or so. Since the offense still isn't at the point where it can consistently compensate for a bad performance on the mound, these recent pitching woes have allowed for the Marlins to get dangerously close to overtaking the top spot in the wildcard race.

Our first culprit is former staff ace, Kevin Millwood. I say former staff ace since All-Star Randy Wolf has proven to be significantly better, and more consistent, than the former Brave. Anyway, in the first half of July, Mr. Millwood was able to bring his ERA out of the low 4.00 range it was in, but after a couple bad starts in a row, he's right back at 4.00. What's the problem you ask? Well, apparently there were a few problems with his delivery, which caused the back to back five earned run performances. Fear not Millwood owners, according to the Daily News, Kevin and Joe Kerrigan sat down together on Monday to try to find and correct the aforementioned troubles. Assuming the two were able to achieve their goal in that tape study session, the only other obstacle for Kevin to overcome in order to get back on track would be that bruised right tricep he suffered in his start against the Marlins. I don't see that injury as being something that holds Millwood back though, so look for him to get his numbers in order sooner rather than later.

Though I did proclaim him to be the current staff ace, Randy Wolf hasn't been unbeatable either. The team has lost three of his last five starts, including his last against the beleaguered Reds, where he allowed ten hits (including two homers) and five earned runs. As with Millwood, Wolfie owners should not be worried here. Ranking in the NL's top ten in seven different pitching categories, it's a safe bet that the rough start here and there won't hurt Randy's confidence too much, or destroy the fantastic stat line he's earned thus far. I expect Randy to regain his stellar form and lead the Phils' pitching staff down the stretch as they try for that wildcard berth.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Brandon Duckworth, the only Phillies starter with an ERA over 4.00, has been the worst of the bunch this year. In his last ten starts, all four of his decisions have been losses. His opponent's batting average for the season is .293, and he's gone seven innings just once. With all that said, does anyone else wonder how he didn't make the All-Star team this year? Coming into this year, some considered Ducky as a sleeper that might bust out of the gate and return to his rookie form after a horrible season in '02. In reality, the exact opposite has happened. There really isn't a word to describe how bad he's been at times, and he's shown no signs of improvement. To try and fix his problems, Brandon slowed down his delivery in a side session prior to his start against Florida last week. The result was a five inning, two earned run performance that wasn't all that bad under Ducky standards, but did get him another loss. I guess it's back to the drawing board for Brandon, and time to forget about him again for fantasy owners.

Moving away from the mound, we should update Pat Burrell's situation as he tries to make himself worthy of a fantasy roster spot. The bad news is that his eight game hitting streak finally came to an end on Monday, but the good news is that he's hitting .278 with a .409 OBP in the last week, which is a positive step for Pat. Keep your eye on Burrell, especially if he is available on the waiver wire in your league, to see if this trend can continue.

After a so-so first half, this week's non-Phillie is starting to play more like we expected back on draft day. Randy Winn's start to 2003 didn't exactly impress too many, and even caused some to drop him in favor of a hotter bat. But his post break stat line, which is .370/4/8/1, may bring those owners to reconsider their quick hook. This hot streak marks the best Winn has hit since moving out to Seattle after last season, and has his season numbers moving back toward where they were projected. If your team is in need of some speed, perhaps to compensate for the weak production of J-Roll or Abreu in that category, then Winn might be the man for you.

Alright, that'll do it for this week folks. If you have any questions or comments, send them to qwaz21@aol.com with "PBN" in the subject line and I'll give you my two cents. Until next time, I'm out like Duce Staley.


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