The Phillies have a pitching staff that includes three All-Star starters who are making a combined $64 million this year and a closer who signed the richest contract for a reliever in baseball history.
They also have a 7.10 ERA after the first week of the 2013 season. That's the worst ERA among Major League Baseball's 30 teams.
While the bullpen has been an unmitigated disaster, a far more glaring issue is that a rotation that includes the aforementioned payroll or two Cy Young Award winners and a World Series MVP, along with two other veteran pitchers, has a 6.75 ERA through the season's first six games. This is also the worst among MLB's starting pitching staffs.
But perhaps their battery mates should share the blame. That was at least the storyline prior to Monday's game, when the lineup was posted and Erik Kratz, the team's starter with Carlos Ruiz out (suspended) was not in it.
Humberto Quintero is catching Roy Halladay tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
Following his start last Wednesday, Halladay alluded to not being committed to one of the pitches he threw that ended up in the seats in Atlanta. He said the pitch that Justin Upton hit for a home run was a "half-hearted" one on his part.
In the first week of games, there has been some bad body language between the starting pitchers and their catchers. Are they on the same page?
"I don’t know that we’re not on the same page – we’re not making good pitches first of all," said pitching coach Rich Dubee, who goes over game plans with his starting battery prior to every game. "We’ve got the ball in our hand. We’re not making good pitches if you look at us. That’s the biggest problem. We haven’t got the ball in the strike zone early in the count enough to get ahead like we should. That’s the only way you get deep in this game is if you’re starting pitchers are pounding the strike zone. We haven’t been doing that."
So there's nothing to Kratz not catching Halladay following last week's game?
"Charlie makes the lineup," Dubee said. "(Quintero) has played one time. We don’t have a starting catcher here. Do we? He’s in Florida. We have two backups and they both need to play. This guy has caught one game in six games."
Manuel said he's not aware of any issues between his pitchers and catchers. He said he was starting Quintero because Kratz caught Sunday and he wanted Kratz again on Tuesday with Cliff Lee on the mound.
Kratz said he is also unaware of any communication issues. But he understood the Phillies are 2-4, too.
"We gave up runs," Kratz said of Halladay's last start, a 9-2 loss. "It’s obvious. I’ve been out there and they’ve scored runs. You gotta change something. We’re not winning right now so you have to change it up."
Dubee said the problems rely solely on his pitchers' respective abilities to execute.
"It comes down to making good pitches," Dubee said. "Pitch ahead in the count. We’ve had tons of three-ball counts, too many walks and not enough strike ones.
"If you’re no executing, no (it doesn't matter who's catching). You have to execute."