Pitching wins championships. It’s something that every general manager in the MLB knows, and it’s the reason that the San Fransisco Giants were World Series champions last year. However, a good pitching staff by itself isn’t good enough to win games, because after all, you can’t win if you can’t score. This year’s Philadelphia Phillies obviously have the pitching to win games, as exemplified by their three starting pitchers representing the team in the MLB All-Star game.
However, the Phillies offense had been lagging, slowed by injuries to all-star Placido Polanco and the lack of a true right fielder. Though it wasn’t possible to accelerate Polanco’s healing process, it was possible to tighten up the situation in right field, by grabbing someone at the deadline. The Phillies did just that, signing exactly who they wanted just two days before the trade deadline. Two years ago it was Cliff Lee , last year Roy Oswalt was the target, and this year the Phillies snagged another Houston Astro, Hunter Pence .
Pence, who was an All-Star this year is batting a great .308, a team high for the Phillies. He can pack a punch too, hitting 11 home runs this year and driving in 62 runs as part of a pedestrian Astros offense. The righty will bat 5th, giving Ryan Howard some protection, and giving the Phillies the five-hole hitter they have been dreaming about all season.
But wait, there’s more. Earlier today, Placido Polanco was placed back onto the active roster and is slated to start tonight’s game against the Pirates. With Polanco back, Michael Martinez no longer needs to try and produce numbers similar to those of an everyday starter (though he will probably still start occasionally given his recent performance) something that was simply unrealistic for the Rule 5 pick. The return of Polanco also gives the Phillies depth, allowing Martinez to be used as a pinch-runner or a pinch-hitter if necessary.
However, in order to clear roster space for these two, Domonic Brown, whose job Pence will be taking, and Andrew Carpenter who has posted an atrocious 7.71 ERA this year were sent down to triple-A Lehigh Valley. Carpenter hasn’t shown much potential in his time in the majors, with a career 8.53 ERA, and with Brown still struggling, this may be just what he needs.
As if the Phillies weren’t in a good enough position already, the acquisition of Hunter Pence and the return of Placido Polanco the Phillies have even more to be excited about. As long as the rest of the team can stay relatively injury free, there’s no reason the Phillies shouldn’t be playing deep into October.