The Phillies have played incredibly exciting baseball through the first 18 games. We have detailed their amazing comebacks already. Much of that is thanks to their once-again-prodigious offense. They are third in the league in runs scored (behind two teams that have played 2 more games than they have) and second in home runs (behind a team that has played 1 more game).
And yet they are only 10-8. And we know why: the pitching has been horrendous. At 5.98, the Phillies have the worst ERA in the National Leauge. They've given up 107 runs, tied for the most in the NL. And, all of them have been earned, as the Phillies haven't let up a single unearned run. The next highest earned run total for any NL team is 96 (Rockies). The team's 5 quality starts is the worst in the NL, two behind several other teams at 7.
So just how bad is the Phillies pitching right now? So bad that you have to go back to September 5, 2007, to find this bad a run over 18 games. Over the 18 games ending on September 5, 2007, the Phillies gave up 116 runs and had a 6.24 ERA.
Over the course of all of last year, the Phillies didn't have an 18 game stretch where they even approached being this bad. The worst 18-game ERA the Phils had was 4.92. That ERA, for the 18 games ending August 5, 2008, is a full run better than the Phils' ERA so far this year. The worst 18-game total of runs scored against the Phillies last year was 102, for the stretch of 18 games ending July 27. Unlike the current ugly stretch, the pitchers were victimized by bad fielding in July 2008, as they allowed only 90 earned runs (with 12 unearned).
The good news, of course, is that the Phillies are 10-8. Over the awful stretch of pitching in 2007, the Phillies were 8-10. Over the 18 games ending July 27, 2008, when the Phillies gave up 102 runs, they were also 8-10.
So their offense is clearly picking up some of the slack that the pitching is generating. But winning despite this level of pitching is undoubtedly not a recipe for sustained success.