It should have been the team’s first sweep of the season, as they had handled the Cubs easily in the previous two games. However, it was clear from the start that it was not meant to happen. Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett struggled to keep the ball in the strike zone and ended up giving up four runs in the first inning. The Philadelphia Phillies were never able to overcome the rough start, and lost 8-3, ending their first road trip of the season with a 3-3 record. It did not end in Chicago, as the Phillies dropped their home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers thanks to sloppy defense and poor pitching. The margin of error for this team is small, and they must tighten up their play if they hope to remain successful this season.
One area of concern defensively is the team’s outfield. While Marlon Byrd’s defense this season has been stellar, saving the team a few runs, his fellow outfielders have made their fair share of mistakes. Domonic Brown already has an error this season, but perhaps more telling is absence in some of the games this season. In the first game of the season, Brown started at DH rather than left field, where Tony Gwynn Jr. started. Then in the next game, Brown did not play at all, instead John Mayberry Jr. started in left. Brown has also been taken out late in games for Gwynn for defensive reasons. Brown certainly has the tools to succeed in the outfield, but what he needs to do is make better decisions. His error earlier this season was an errant throw that was too far ahead of third baseman Cody Asche. There are also times where Brown could take a better route to the ball. He is not the only Phillies outfield who must take better routes on flyballs.
Ben Revere often makes highlight reel catches thanks to his speed, but his speed is also a reason he does not make as many mistakes he could. Revere often takes hesitates to break towards a ball or misjudges the ball, and while his speed allows him to recover most of the time, he still fails to make outs that should be made. Considering that Revere has a weak arm, he cannot afford make such mistakes. What the Phillies need from Revere is for him to become an elite defensive player for them. His arm strength may never develop, but if Revere can cut down on his mistakes to make more of the outs that he should, he could become a valuable defensive asset to the team.
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The Phillies pitching staff must also tighten up their play, from starters Burnett and Kyle Kendrick, to the team’s high-profile closer Jonathan Papelbon. All three of these pitchers have had their share of control issues recently, although in his last appearance Papelbon seemed to have gotten things better under control. The team still has a few weeks before their ace Cole Hamels returns to strengthen the rotation, so they must hang in their and correct their mistakes.
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