It is now October, and for the second time in as many years, the Philadelphia Phillies’ season has ended, and they are not in the playoffs. Yet another disappointing season has left the Phillies as one of the worst teams in the National League, and sent them packing earlier than many fans had hoped at the beginning of the season. The first half of the Phillies’ season was less of an issue than the second half, as there was still hope for a winning season and a playoff berth leading up to the All-Star Break. This article will review the first third of the Phillies season, encompassing the months of April and May.
The expectations were high for the Phillies at the beginning of 2013. A healthy Chase Utley was expected to provide major contributions on both sides of the ball. Hopes were high for Ryan Howard to come back 100% healthy from his gruesome injury on the last pitch of their 2011 run. Lots of focus was placed on outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. Many expected Roy Halladay to make a comeback from injury, while expecting Cole Hamels to pitch like the $144 million the front office deemed him worth.
In reality, it was a rough start for the team, going 6-9 through the first 15 games, and ending up 12-15 through the first month of the season. Cole Hamels had a rough April, losing three games. The bullpen also showed its vulnerability, blowing many leads and taking six losses in the first month. Despite this, the Phillies played consistent .500 ball through May, finishing the month 14-14. Carlos Ruiz’s return from his 25-game suspension gave the Phillies some stability behind the plate, but he would contribute very little offensively at first.
Jonathan Pettibone made his Major League debut at the end of April, winning his first two starts. With John Lannan going on the disabled list early in the season, the Phillies needed all the help they could get from Roy Halladay. Unfortunately, Halladay had an incredibly rough start to the season, later revealed to be because of bone spurs in his shoulder. Halladay was shut down in early May, and had surgery on his shoulder in the middle of the month. He was originally expected to as much as the rest of the season.
While the Phillies remained rather consistent after a rocky start, they started to click offensively as Domonic Brown did so. After bottoming out with a .206 average on April 20th, Brown began to turn it around as the weather warmed up. Brown went on a tear in late May and early June, raising his average to .291 by June 3rd. He blasted 12 home runs in the month of May and would become the team’s leading hitter, remaining in that position for the entire season. Brown also established himself as one of the National League’s premier power hitters, truly breaking out after struggling during his early years in the big leagues.
Ryan Howard had an up and down first two months of 2013. He only posted 3 home runs in April and 4 in May, but had a .286 batting average on April 28th. That would drop to .254 by the end of May as Howard began to show signs of slowing down, probably due to his injury, despite posting three multi-RBI games in the month.
Kyle Kendrick and Cliff Lee both had very good starts to the season. Lee, despite allowing 5 earned runs on April 20th and 4 earned runs on May 1st, pitched deep into many games in the first two months, finishing May with a 2.34 ERA. Lee logged a complete game shutout on May 22nd. Kendrick had his best stuff in the first two months of the season, posting a 3.27 ERA by the end of May. Kendrick had a complete game shutout of his own on April 26th, while registering another complete game win on June 3rd.
Then-new Phillie Michael Young had a torrid start to his Phillies career, batting .341 in April. Young had a strong start to May, then went on an unprecedented cold streak towards the end of the month, finishing May with just a .258 batting average. Young was a reliable option at third base that showed no power at the plate, serving as a top or middle of the lineup guy who turned out to be a singles machine.
With a 26-29 record at the end of May, the Phillies were not quite meeting expectations, but still posed a threat to make a run at the top of the division. They were 6.5 games out of the NL East lead by the end of May, but with more than 100 games remaining at that point, anything seemed possible.
Part two of the Phillies 2013 season review will be posted later this week. The second installment of a three part season review will feature the months of June and July, and will take a closer look at where it all started to go wrong.
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