Phillies Progress and Pitcher's Report Cards

Maybe it took a little too long for the Phillies liking, but it appears that finally, the team is playing up to their preseason expectations. After coming off of a crazy win in their Sunday matinee against Arizona, the Phils have taken two out of three in their last three series. Plus, a look at the pitcher's report cards for the first month of the season.

Going on the road to St. Louis is never easy, especially with what may be the National League's most potent lineup waiting at Busch Stadium. But the Phils showed that their lineup is a force to be reckoned with as well, outscoring the Cardinals 17-11 during the three-game set. The only game the Phillies lost in the series was on a walk-off homer by Jim Edmonds, a game in which Ricky Ledee delivered a pinch-hit homerun in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Even though they lost, it was a solid performance all around, and it continued in the next series against Arizona.

The Phils brought the show home, where they won the first game thanks to a great performance by Randy Wolf, who pitched a complete game shutout. Saturday night they played under the lights against probably the best lefty in the game in Randy Johnson, and the Phils led in the sixth inning, but Carlos Baerga's homer off of Vicente Padilla gave the Diamondbacks the win. And then two days ago, Ricky Ledee drew a bases loaded walk to give the Phils a win in fourteen innings.

This week, the Phillies have rematches against both teams, as the Cards come to Citizens Bank Park for the first time Tuesday night for a three game set. The Phils will then hop on a plane Thursday night and head for the desert, where they will hook up with Arizona again. This should be a great week hitting-wise for the Phils, as the only true quality pitcher they are scheduled to face will again be when they see Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb in Arizona. Expect the Phils to win four games this week, and anything less will be a disappointment, as a .500 record looms near.

In last week's article, the hitters were graded on their performance from the first month of the season. Now as May begins, it is the pitchers' turns to be graded:

Randy Wolf - A: He leads the team in innings pitched so far, and his ERA is the lowest of all the starters. His complete game against Arizona proved that he is a true workhorse that the Phils will need down the stretch, and if he keeps up his performance, he will be looking for his second All-Star invitation. Prediction: Randy Wolf will win 20 games.

Kevin Millwood - B+: Has seemed a little shaky at times, but he remains the staff ace, and has shown it at times this year. His 3.38 ERA is very good, and he leads the team in strikeouts as well. Millwood is a key ingredient to a successful Phillies team, and if he hopes to cash in big this winter, he will need to come up bigger than he is right now.

Vicente Padilla - C+: Padilla has had the misfortune so far of being the guy who does not get any luck at all and hardly any run support. His pitching has not been bad at all; in fact sometimes it has been downright nasty. But his 0-4 record is nothing to boast about, run support or not.

Eric Milton - A-: Milton has exceeded expectations after coming over from Minnesota in a trade this off-season. His surgically repaired knee appears fine, and it shows by his 2-0 record and 3.86 ERA. Second on the team in strikeouts, Milton has been a key cog in the Phillies rotation. If he stays consistent, his veteran presence and solidity on the mound will help the Phils that much more in the long run.

Brett Myers - D-: Maybe he is going through what Pat Burrell went through last year, but whatever it is, Myers had better get it fixed quickly or else he will lose his spot in the rotation. His bloated 7.68 ERA in three starts is horrid, and even worse is that fact that in his three games, he has managed to pitch a meager 14 innings. If you need help with that math, that is less than five innings pitched per game. The bullpen is getting worn down already, and Myers's poor starts aren't helping. He has the potential, he just need to refocus and settle down.

Ryan Madson/Amaury Telemaco - A+: No one expected this. In 15.2 innings of relief, Madson has yet to allow an earned run. That's another reason why Myers is on a short leash in the rotation. Madson has been fabulous, and he has a bright future ahead. Telemaco has been great as well. These two have been the foundation for many late inning wins.

Roberto Hernandez/ Rheal Cormier – D: These two have been basically the opposite of Madson and Telemaco. At times they have been good, but for the most part not, and the Phillies are going to need much better performances out of these two as the Phils being to enter the main part of the schedule.

Tim Worrell/ Billy Wagner – A: Wagner and Worrell have done everything expected of them, which is finish out games and give Larry Bowa a time to relax in the eights and ninth, instead of worrying about a save that Jose Mesa is about to blow. It is a joy to see 100-plus MPH on the radar gun when Wagner is hurling, and he is as close to a sure thing as there is. Worrell has provided the necessary bridge to get to Wagner in the ninth.

Questions? Comments? Email me at and I will get back to you and maybe even put your question in my next article. Until next week, Let's Go Flyers!

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