Red Sox And Phillies Are Mirror Images Heading Into Weekend Series

173 Million Dollars.  18 wins.  Last place.  That’s where the Boston Red Sox stand on May 18th, 2012.  173 million dollars.  20 wins.  Last place.  That’s where the Philadelphia Phillies stand on May 18, 2012.  That is as similar as two teams can get at this point in the season.  It’s also incredibly disappointing for two teams who were looked at as surefire playoff contenders and possible World Series candidates.  As luck would have it for these two teams it is still early as there is still over 4 full months in the season.

Ellsbury’s injury was one of many endured by both teams in the early going

The similarities don’t stop with the wins and payroll.  The Phillies lost slugging first baseman Ryan Howard to a torn ACL in their final playoff game last year and are waiting to get him back.  Their other star infielder, Chase Utley, was also injured in spring training and the Phillies have been without him for the start of the season.  The Red Sox had similar woes when they lost closer Andrew Bailey and left fielder Carl Crawford to injuries in spring training and then lost center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury during the home opener.  The silver lining with all of these injuries is that all of these players are expected back before the All-Star Break which means both of these teams are going to get as good of an upgrade as you can get mid-season.  If they both can keep it close in the standings, and they have so far, the returns of these players could provide a big boost for the stretch run.

Big Papi and the Sox offense haven’t missed a beat so far

The only difference between the two teams is that while the Red Sox have hit the ball well their pitching has been inconsistent and the Phillies have had the starting pitching you’d expect from those guys but they’ve struggled offensively.  Obviously the Phillies don’t have their two best offensive hitters so it’s not a huge surprise that they couldn’t match production.  The Red Sox on the other hand are going with their best 5 in the rotation and the results thus far have been less than fruitful.  They have pitched better as of late but can they keep it up?  The bullpen suffered a big blow with Bailey going out but they have somewhat recovered.  The Phillies bullpen isn’t all that much better themselves.  Only Jonathan Papelbon (I’ll get to him in a minute) and Antonio Bastardo have an ERA under 4.00.  They’ve put a lot of pressure on their starters to get deep into games.  In the National League with the pitcher hitting that’s sometimes tough to do.

Papelbon suddenly has beef with the Sox

Then there is our old friend Jonathan Papelbon who seemingly has built up a grudge against the Red Sox out of nowhere.  I’m a little bit surprised because I, and I assumed a lot of other people, saw this divorce coming for a few years before it actually happened.  The Red Sox didn’t come to him with a long term deal and he was content with getting as much as he could in arbitration and playing it year to year.  Papelbon said on more than one occasion that he wanted to get the biggest deal ever for a closer on the free agent market and the Red Sox are notorious for not going above 3 years on any reliever.  So Papelbon went and got his 4 year deal with a 5th year option from the Phillies and the Red Sox got a new cost controlled closer.  Everyone got what they wanted right?  Apparently not because all of a sudden Papelbon feels disrespected.  My brother told me for a few years now how much he hated Papelbon because of all of his ridiculous antics and I always thought he was exaggerating but looking back on it maybe I had my Red Sox-colored glasses on.  This guy really is sort of a clown.

This series really is a big series for both teams.  Whoever wins this series should be right back in the thick of things in their division.  The pitching match-ups are as follows:  Bard-Hamels, Lester-Blanton, Beckett-Lee.  Tonight may be the most important game.  Daniel Bard will be the wild card.  Lester has dominated the Phillies in the past and Lee is pitching great this year.  But at the end of the day it will all come down to whether or not the Red Sox can maintain their pitching and if the Phillies can keep up offensively.  Who ever does what they need to do will have a leg up on their pennant race.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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