We should probably stop pitching to Ryan Howard. To wit, here are his numbers from 2012-2015:
Against Atlanta: 161 PA, .217/.304/.497, 12 HR, 32 RBI
Against all other teams: 1145 PA, .233/.307/.402, 39 HR, 170 RBI
Just for comparison, Jeff Francoeur’s career triple slash is .261/.305/.417, meaning that our pitchers turn Ryan Howard from Jeff Francoeur into Dave Kingman.
And that’s just what happened last night, when the newest member of our starting rotation, Trevor Cahill, had a vintage 2006 Tim Hudson Episode in the first inning, then basically settled down for the rest of the game, allowing just three hits and one run the rest of the way. There’s still some reason to hope that this guy could be a decent pitcher again, but getting smacked around by this Phillies offense is no way to inspire confidence.
So Howard’s three-run homer provided the Phillies with a cushion, and after Cahill came out of the game, they managed a little ABE baseball of their own. (Get ’em on, get ’em over, then score when the other team commits an error.) This time it was Freddie Freeman ranging on a ground ball and throwing the ball behind the pitcher, Ian Thomas, who was covering first. Albert Callaspo hit a pinch homer off closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it was too little, too late.
Today it’s the Nationals, who have been scuffling themselves, coming off a sweep by the Fish. They’re last in the majors in fielding and they’re without third baseman Anthony Rendon — who is probably the best player on the team and is recovering from a spring training knee injury. And that means that on many days their infield has featured Yunel Escobar at third and Dan Uggla at second.
If you’re wondering why the Nats have been losing, that just might be one possibility. Let’s see if we can kick ’em while they’re down.