Welcome back Raul Ibanez!
After hitting three homeruns over the past two games, including two longballs in Monday night’s 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals, it seems that Ibanez is starting to break out of his second half slump.
Since the end of the all-star break, Ibanez has watched his average drop from .316, all the way down to .272 last week. In addition to a severe average drop, Raul was also in the midst of his worst round-tripper drought of the season, homering just twice since July 26th.
However, since September 5th, the Raul of old has seemed to poke his head out of the dugout and onto the field.
Starting with the first game vs. Houston last Friday, Ibanez is 7-15 with 3 homeruns in the four games since then, and has looked exponentially more comfortable at the plate than in weeks past.
Case and point, if Ibanez can play remotely close to the all-star level Phillies fans were accustomed to seeing during the first half of the season, the Philadelphia offense will be the most feared bat attack in major league going into the playoffs.
Why do I say that?
With Ibanez’s 2 HR’s on Monday, combined with solo shots from Jayson Werth and Chase Utley, the Phillies became the first team this season to have four players with 30+ homeruns in a season.
The only other statistic that I find equally as impressive is the New York Yankees having 7 players with 20+ homeruns. Yes, those are the same New York Yankees who are a MLB-best 40 games over .500 at the present time.
Combine a streaking Ibanez with the likes Utley, Werth, an already scorching-hot Ryan Howard, and lastly all-star Shane Victorino, the 2009 Fall Classic could very well feature the biggest offensive display in World Series history with the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees (Prediction?).
On a negative note, J.A Happ will miss his next scheduled start. Happ, the likely candidate for NL Rookie of the Year honors, will be sidelined for at least one more start because of a strained oblique.
Smart move by the Phillies to be cautious and shut Happ down for the time being. This is by far the most amount of innings Happ has pitched in a season during his short professional baseball career, and for Happ to be an effective 4th starter for the Phillies in the playoffs, rest is probably the best thing possible right now for the 26 year-old rookie.
Lastly, some more roster moves.
Both LHP Sergio Escalona and 1B Andy Tracy had their contracts purchased by the Phillies.
Escalona, already a member of the Phillies 40-man roster, has been promoted to Philadelphia three other separate times this season, going 1-0 with a 2.84 E.R.A with the Phillies.
Tracy, an International League all-star this season for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, was promoted to Philadelphia after not being on the original 40-man roster. To make room for Tracy, RHP Rodrigo Lopez was released. Tracy, who will be used lefty bat with some pop off the bench in the absense of Greg Dobbs and a struggling Matt Stairs, was second in the International League in homeruns in both homeruns (26) and RBI’s with (96).
That’s it for today, as I am in no mood to talk about the Brad Lidge dilemma Phillies management is facing at the present time. When a decision is made, which is either to let Lidge keep blowing saves or implement Ryan Madson or Brett Myers as the new closer, I will talk about it.
Until then, silence is golden.