Phillies Blog – Davey and The Statman Contributors - Phillies blog will feature renowned Sports Handicapper Davey Sharpe and his partner Mike the Statman.  Combined they operate a successful sports handicapping business together and are both lifelong Phillies fans.

Philly Nation has plenty to be thankful for during their Sunday dinner.  Our Fightin' Phils will be returning for Tuesday's Home Opener vs
Milwaukee with a 3-3 record after taking 2 of 3 against the Cubs.  And veteran Jimmy Rollins will be returning to Citizen Bank after becoming
a Father for the second time.   Congratulations Jimmy and Johari!!!!  Shortstop replacement Jayson Nix wasn't very productive in his two games
filling in, going just 1-8 with 3Ks, so we will be glad to have Jimmy back in the lineup against the Brew Crew.

Let's begin by addressing the starting pitching.  Friday's opening game in Chicago came with encouraging results.  Starter Roberto Hernandez
showed signs of his breakthru (Phil Spaziani)  2007 season with Cleveland (went 19-8 that year) with a quality start of 5 plus innings of 3-hit ball, 2 ER,
while striking out 5 and allowing just one BB in a 7-2 win.  Not too shabby for a guy who has a ML W-L record of 22 games under .500.  Kudos
Roberto, or is it Fausto?  Whomever you are calling yourself these days, keep up the good work my man. 

On Saturday Cliff Lee certainly scattered his hits well, giving up 10 hits over 7 shutout innings.  Yes, he kept the Cubs off the scoreboard
and has a 2-0 record but I think there is still alot of cause for concern with the fact that Lee has allowed 21 hits in just 12 innings. 
Teams hitting .375 off you means you are NOT fooling anybody.  This is not what I would consider the numbers for an ace of any staff. 
Pitching coach Bob McLure and Cliff obviously have some issues to address right away.  This Friday's start vs the upstart Marlins will be
watched closely indeed. 

A.J. Burnett followed up his successful first start with a disappointing one in Sunday's matinee.  He really struggled with his control and
location in the opening frame, finishing it in a 4-0 hole which was too deep for the offense to climb out of.  Hopefully, this is just a minor
setback and A.J. will find his rhythm again back home later this week vs. Miami.   I'm still a believer that this guy will be a strong contributor
this season.  I do NOT think that Burnett should have been brought back out for the 6th in this game.  This was a manageable 4-1 game going into the 6th
and Burnett clearly did not have anything – I don’t like Sandberg bringing him out to pitch that inning. . . which eventually put the game out of reach
when he gave up another 4 before finally being yanked. . . . however, too late.

Offensively the Phils for the most part is hitting the ball better than expected thus far averaging 5.2 runs/g.   Of course about half of those
runs came in the season opener at Texas which slightly skews the numbers.  Chase "you are the man" Utley is off the a tremendous start hitting
a robust .458 with 2 HR and 6 RBIs (6-11 over the weekend) and has hit safely in all 6 games.  I guess all those operations are finally paying
some dividends.  Sharing some of the load with Chase is Domonic Brown, also going 6-11 in the weekend series (.381 overall).  Ryan Howard didn't
give us too much to cheer about, having a weak 2-12 series and no RBIs.  Not what we expect out of the cleanup slot Ryan.  You need to pick it
up sir.  Honestly, putting the bat on the ball was not something we saw a lot of in Chicago.  The Phils struck out 26 times in the 3 games. 
This used to be a disciplined team.  Lots of room for improvement there.  Get on it Henderson and Mizerock!!!  Maybe a game of Pepper and the
little league cheer "good eye, good eye".  I've never forgotten it.

The brightest spot had to be the bullpen effort.  With the exception of Brad Lincoln giving up an RBI single to Anthony Rizzo (charged to
Burnett) on Sunday in a game that was already out of reach, the relievers did a marvelous job in a pitcher non-friendly park like Wrigley. 
In the 3-game series, the bullpen accounted for 8 IP, 1H (only 1 Hit???), 4 BB, 7K and ZERO Earned Runs.  The strongest performer was Jeff
Manship who made 2 appearances going 2.1 IP, OH, BB and 2Ks while finishing off Friday's victory.

Everyone should be looking forward to Tuesday's Season Home Opener festivities and hope Sandberg has the team prepared to fare better
against the Brewers than in 2013, when the Phils won just 2 of 7 games against them.  Milwaukee is coming off a 3-game sweep of the Red Sox
at Fenway so we will have our hands full.  Good Luck to our Fightin Phils.....Let's start off win a Big W!!!!