Sunday, March 11, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Phillies
By David Schoenfield
The Philadelphia Phillies set a franchise record with 102 wins in 2011, eclipsing the 101-win totals of 1976 and 1977.
The season, of course, ended in bitter disappointment when Chris Carpenter outdueled Roy Halladay 1-0 in Game 5 of the Division Series.
What's in store for the Phillies in 2012? They bring back their three aces, but Ryan Howard will miss at least two months with his Achilles injury. Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome will likely get most of the action at first base until Howard returns, and considering Wigginton had lackluster numbers last season in Colorado (.242/.315/.416) and Thome hasn't played in the field since one game with the White Sox in 2007, that could be an issue.
On the other hand, they'll have Hunter Pence for an entire season and can hope Chase Utley plays more than 103 games. Raul Ibanez left via free agency, and while he hit 20 home runs and drove in 84 runs, he also posted a terrible .289 on-base percentage and had little range in left field. No matter who ends up getting playing time out there -- John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Domonic Brown -- it should prove to be at least a minor upgrade.
As good as the Big Three of Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are, the Phillies will have to get production from their fourth and fifth starters to match last season's league-best 529 runs allowed. Vance Worley surprised as a rookie, going 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. Roy Oswalt is gone, leaving Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick battling for the fifth spot.
What do you think? The Vegas over/under line on the Phillies is 95.5 wins.