There are lots of problems with the Phillies right now, but three of the biggest are three of the biggest stars from last year: Jamie Moyer, Brad Lidge, and Jimmy Rollins.
This is no surprise, as anyone watching games or looking at boxscores can tell that the three of them are killing the team. But this post isn't all doom and gloom. The silver lining for each of these three dead weights is that they all have the experience to get through these massive slumps.
Don't worry -- I'm not suddenly lapsing into SportsCenter-speak about experience, grit, and resolve. (It scares me just writing that you could possibly have thought that!) Rather, what I'm talking about by referring to experience is that each has had a stretch like this one in his past, and each has figured out how to get beyond it. Let's look at the specifics:
Jamie Moyer has a 3-3 record, but only 1 quality start out of 7. His ERA is a well-deserved 8.15, as he hasn't gotten unlucky much (FIP of 7.29). At age 46 (albeit with a shiny new 2 year contract!), Moyer might have lost his map to the Fountain of Youth he obviously found over the past few years.
But maybe he can use his experience to draw on in getting past this slump. Moyer has had two stretches like this in his career. The first was at the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996 when he was starting for Baltimore then Boston. In 1995, Moyer started the year as a reliever for Baltimore but then moved into the rotation. He wasn't very good as a starter for the entire time he was one for the Orioles, but was especially awful toward the end of the season. In his last 6 appearances for the Orioles plus his first for the Red Sox, he had an 8.44 ERA. Yet, he recovered and had a 3.98 ERA for the entirety of 1996 (for the Sox and the Mariners).
Moyer underwent an even worse stretch in August 2000 as a starter for the Mariners. In seven starts starting July 29, 2000, Moyer had a 9.47 ERA. The "highlight" of the stretch was giving up 11 earned runs in 3.67 innings against the White Sox on August 9. He followed that outing by giving up another 11 runs (although only 6 earned) against the Tigers on August 14. Again, he recovered. For the remainder of 2000, he had a 4.76 ERA in 5 starts. Combine that with all of 2001, and he had a 3.59 ERA for the 7 months following that awful August. Of course, Moyer wasn't 46 in either instance, but he has twice found a way to get past worse 7 game stretches than he's in now.
Brad Lidge has had a start to the season that is the perfect mirror to his performance last year. Perfect all season last year, this year Lidge and his 8.59 ERA have been anything but. He's given up at least a run in 8 of his 15 appearances. He has been awful in whatever situation Charlie Manuel dials his number for -- save situations, close games that we've trailed, throw-away final innings. The only thing left for Lidge is to enter the game as a middle reliever and give up 5 runs. His WHIP proves how awful he's been, as it is an ungodly 1.98.
But, like Moyer, Lidge has been here before. In fact, he's had three 15 game stretches worse than the current one he's in. The first (and worst) came in late 2003 when he had a 9.95 ERA over 15 games as a reliever for the Astros. He wasn't the closer then, but he overcame his problems and became the closer in the middle of the following year, when he posted his career-best 1.90 ERA.
His second stretch came, as you could probably have predicted, following the dramatic Pujols homerun that some thought ended Lidge's career. He started 2006 OK following that home run, but then was awful from mid-April through May. He was also awful later in 2006, when he had another terrible 15 game stretch from the end of June to the end of July. During that period, he had an 8.56 ERA. He ended the year with a 5.28 ERA, which does indicate that he pitched pretty well outside those stretches. As we know, though, following 2006, he was very good in 2007 (3.36 ERA) and perfect in 2008 (1.95 ERA, 48 saves in 48 chances). Like Moyer, Lidge has overcome in the past.
Finally, we have Jimmy Rollins. Rollins' troubles are probably the most widely known after his flap over being dropped from the leadoff spot earlier this week. In 31 games, Rollins has 6 walks and a .238 OBP. Thanks to a powerful lineup around him, his counting numbers aren't too bad -- 2 HR, 11 RBI, and 17 R. But, imagine how many more runs he'd produce if he actually could get on base or make contact this year. His .534 OPS is worse than what Endy Chevez blessed the Phillies with in 2005 (.542).
But Rollins has been here before and overcome. He had his worst 31 game stretch in the middle of his worst season -- 2002. From mid-June to almost the end of July that year, he had this beautiful triple-slash line: .163/.236/.207 for an OPS of .444. The rest of his 2002 was much better, as he finished the year with a .686 OPS, meaning his OPS for his non-horrible games was .751 (triple slash of .267/.325/.426). That's hardly the MVP Rollins we want in our lineup, but it's a world of difference from what we're getting now.
Rollins started 2004 with another horrible stretch. Including the last week of 2003 along with the start of 2004, Rollins had a .539 OPS over those 31 games. And yet he finished the year with an OPS of .803, posting an OPS of .848 after May 5.
Rollins' final brutal slump spanned August 2005. From July 31 to September 3, Rollins had an OPS of .481 (.190/.233/.248). His year as a whole, though, was pretty good -- .749 OPS, with a very good OPS of .843 in his non-slumping games. Rollins has been in this hole before, and has gotten out.
As history shows us, all three of these players have figured out how to get through slumps even worse than the ones their in now. Of course, there's no guarantee that history repeats itself here, especially for the 46-year old Moyer. But, we do know that these stars, who have played the game a long time now, have seen lows like this before and have flourished on the other side.