The Indians return home this evening after a very lengthy, but also very successful road trip to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in their first interleague series of the season. In preparation for this short two gamer, I talked to Justin Klugh, the senior editor over at That Ball’s Outta Here, about the Phillies, their aging core of super-stars, and just what we should expect out of the Phillies over the next two days. Here’s what he had to say.
Wahoo’s on First: The Phillies are currently 12-14 and sitting in third place in the NL East. What were your expectations heading into 2013 for this teams.
Justin Klugh: This. What’s happening, right now. Best case scenario is that a third-place caliber team somehow catches enough lucky bounces for a second Wild Card spot, then all of the key players on every team they’d play in the post season becomes horrendously ill, and, like, six guys who have no business performing well start playing out of their minds.
Wahoo’s on First: The core of Jimmy Rollins/Chase Utley/Ryan Howard has been together for a pretty long time and they’re getting up there in age. Do you think they can still be the offensive centerpieces for this team or is it time to think about moving on and to the future?
Justin Klugh: Jimmy Rollins has not been at the center of this offense for some time now. He’s got speed, and great defense, and a winning smile, and he can do this to the Indians every once in a while, but he is not your top offensive weapon anymore. Utley seems to be able to do whatever he wants, when he’s healthy, and Howard has a future as a DH but will tragically be playing for an NL team until his contract ends in 2065. These guys are your leaders and your fan favorites, and Utley seems the most consistent, but as far as “centerpieces” go, building around their injuries and declines in this era is going to end in frustration.
Wahoo’s on FIrst: There was growing concern at the beginning of the year about Roy Halladay. He’s pitched a lot better of late. Were the worries premature or are you still worried about him over the course of the season?
Justin Klugh: Look, why don’t we all as baseball fans just appreciate Doc while we still have him.
Wahoo’s on First: Who is pitching for the Phillies over the next two games and what should we expect from them?
Justin Klugh: It looks like you’re getting Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee while the Phillies face Zach McCallister and To Be Announced. While these sound hilariously one-sided at first glance, our combination of solid-to-elite starting pitching and at times confusingly ineffective offense can turn any game into a pitchers’ duel. Doc is in the middle of a transition, so if you’re going to beat him, do it soon – though the bad news is, he’s been figuring things out, as indicated by his last two wins. Cliff Lee is on the money right now, and when that happens, there is no advice I can give you at 1 a.m. as I type this that will save you from him.
Wahoo’s on First: What is your prediction for this short, two game series?
Justin Klugh: Normally I’d take things into consideration like the teams and the players on them, but being blinded by the Phillies’ first successful sweep of the year, I will naturally have to assume that the Phillies carry this momentum and never lose again; until their next loss, at which point we can naturally assume again that the season is over. I should get back on my meds.