Posted tagged ‘Cole Hamels’

Phillies Clinch

October 2, 2009
Philadelphia Phillies Clinch the N.L. East

Philadelphia Phillies Clinch the N.L. East

It should feel great that the Phillies clinched another playoff birth.  Though, for some reason, I’m just a little anxious.  I guess the only thing that would make me feel great is if I was confident in the Phillies winning a playoff series.

I have significant questions about the Phillies, specifically, their starting pitching and closer slot.  The Phillies boast a solid roster of starting pitchers, especially on paper.  However, the likes of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Pedro Martinez aren’t really pumping out the dominating performances we need to get over the playoff hump.  Lee has been mediocre at best since his strong start here in Philadelphia.  Hamels is wildly inconsistent and hasn’t gotten any run support.  Pedro has pitched ok, but he doesn’t have the ability anymore to crush opponents and win games on his own.  Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ both have looked good, but aren’t top of the rotation guys right now.  In fact, Happ is battling a little bit of the injury bug.  Further complicating things is that the old stand-by, usually good for a solid start and long relief, Jamie Moyer is done for the season with some groin and hamstring issues.  They key to this situation is that the starters need to pull it together.  We need the dominating performances out Lee and Hamels.  Pedro and Blanton need to step it up.  There is nothing else that can be done.  We have to rely on our starting pitching.  If these guys want it bad enough and they should, I think that Lee, Hamels and the crew will prove they are capable of providing dominating playoff performances.

Even scarier is the closer situation.  Brad Lidge, Tyler Walker, Ryan Madson and even Brett Myers will be on the post-season roster.  Yet, we’re not sure who will show up as the closer.  As discussed in previous posts, we think Ryan Madson should be handed the role and be able to prepare like the closer.  Keep Lidge off the post-season roster and let Walker and Myers battle it out for the set-up role.  Whatever happens, the Phillies post-season relies on the bullpen, specifically the closer role.

As I look forward to the playoffs and the determination of the match-ups, I sit and wonder – which Phillies pitching staff will show up for the defense of the World Series title?

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Cole Hamels Pitches a Gem

September 2, 2009
Cole Hamels - file

Cole Hamels - file

It’s about time Cole Hamels steps-up and pitches like he can.  He pitched a complete game and 2 hit the Giants.  The Phillies didn’t provide much run support – scoring only 1 – but that’s all that Hamels needed.  Hamels seemed to have his mechanics and motion in a dominant rhythm, similar to his playoff performance last year.  Also, he seemed to stay calm, quite the opposite that we have seen in some of the struggling starts he has had this year.  Hopefully, he will continue his dominant pitching through September and into the playoffs.

I’m impressed with Charlie Manuel sticking with Hamels without even making any reference to it.  He never thought Hamels was having problems, nor did he think there was anything that needed to be done.  More concerning is that the Phillies only were able to generate 1 run.  Hamels is the ace of the staff, there is not reason the Phillies shouldn’t be able to support a tremendous pitching effort.  The Phillies line-up is based on power.  I expect and think the Phillies are capable of scoring 4 or more runs every night.  That’s how they did it last year.  This year will be much tougher.  The competition will be better and if they make it to the World Series, they won’t be playing a soft team like the Rays from last year.  The Phillies are going to need special starts from their pitchers – just like Cole Hamels did last night – if they want to repeat.

Cliff Lee’s Debut and the Phillies Weekend

August 3, 2009
Cliff Lee's Phillies Debut (AP Photo)

Cliff Lee's Phillies Debut (AP Photo)

Cliff Lee was impressive in his first start with the Phillies.  He handled the San Francisco Giants with ease, allowing only 4 hits and 1 run.  If Cliff Lee continues to have solid outings like his debut, the Phillies rotation will definitely be solidified for the home stretch and hopefully, the playoffs.  

Lee significantly impressed me with his enthusiasm and excitement to play for the Philadelphia Phillies.  I think it is seldom seen these days that a player is enthusiastic about being traded to contender or even playing in a city that loves their sports and athletes (although we show it in strange ways).  Lee wasn’t worried about money or logistics, all he wanted was a chance to play on a winning team in a great city.  From my perspective, Lee is everything the Phillies could have asked for, without giving up anything that was going to be part of the Phillies future.  While I’m not really sure how Roy Halladay would have reacted to being traded to Philadelphia, it wouldn’t have been as great as Cliff Lee’s.

After Lee pitched a beauty of a game this past Friday, Joe Blanton went out and threw an excellent game.  The only issue, Tim Lincecum (one of the greatest pitchers I have ever seen throw) pitched an even better game.  The Phillies players couldn’t hit him.  On Sunday, Hamels had a shaky outing causing the Phillies to drop their second in a row.  It didn’t help that the Phillies couldn’t hit either. 

With Blanton and Lee’s excellent outings and hopefully Hamels picks up his game, the Phillies rotation is set.  Let’s see what Pedro brings in his Phillies debut – which I would assume to be in the week.

Phillies Grab Cliff Lee

July 30, 2009
Cliff Lee (McIsaac, Getty)

Cliff Lee (McIsaac, Getty)

The trade of Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp for the 2008 Cy Young award winner, Cliff Lee, and an outfielder, Ben Francisco, should easily stabilize the Phillies pitching rotation and almost make them a lock to come out of the National League and play for the World Series.  Most people wanted Roy Halladay as opposed to Cliff Lee, but the cost for Lee was significantly less and he brings almost as much as Halladay would have.  

Jason Donald, a shortstop, wasn’t going to crack the Phillies line-up for a few years because of Jimmy Rollins, making him dispensable.  Carlos Carrasco, a strong pitcher who lacks intensity and consistency, became expendable with the emergence of young pitching talent Kyle Drabek, Kyle Kendrick and JA Happ.  Jason Knapp is a hard throwing 18 year-old prospect that could develop as a solid reliever or even starting pitcher, but the Phillies could grab another one of those type prospects next season.  Finally, Lou Marson may have been the only player that could cause a hole in the Phillies organization.  Marson, a catcher, was the heir to the duties behind home plate for the Phillies.  Keep in mind; the Phillies have done a solid job filling the catcher hole with a middle talent veteran, Carlos Ruiz.  The Phillies will be all right at catcher without Marson.  From my perspective, the Phillies gave up nothing to get Cliff Lee, so this trade was a no brainer.  In fact, the Phillies kept their three best minor league prospects – Dominic Brown, Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek. 

When I saw the Phillies put together the package for Cliff Lee with the Indians, I thought they were trying to get the Blue Jays to drop their asking price for Halladay.  I guess I was wrong OR the Blue Jays are very stubborn, pricing themselves out of the market for moving their high salaried player.  Regardless, the Phillies got a high level pitcher.

With the acquisition of Lee, this does bring up some issues with the Phillies current pitching rotation.  Obviously, Cole Hamels remains your number 1 starter with Cliff Lee assuming the number 2 spot.   This leaves a few pitchers for three spots – Pedro Martinez, JA Happ, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Rodrigo Lopez and Antonio Bastardo.  Looking at this list, Bastardo either goes back to the minors or pitches out of the pen.  Lopez can make his last start tonight and return to pitching out the pen or head to the triple A.  Moyer leads the Phillies in wins and is a solid veteran presence.  Joe Blanton has excellent experience and has pitched well.  JA Happ, a rookie, has pitched some impressive games and looks like he should be a rotation guy.  Who knows what to do with this rotation?  With a four man rotation heading into the playoffs, assuming that Pedro gets his form back, you send out Hamels, Lee, Martinez and Blanton and I guess if I needed a fifth starter, it would have to be JA Happ.  I think Jamie Moyer is just going to break down by the end of the season and players will figure out how to hit his junk.  Luckily, I am not the pitching coach or manager of the Phillies, so I won’t have to deal with these decisions.  However, I do get to complain or comment on the decision.

The Phillies went out and made a great move to help their ball club.  I look forward to all the great things to come this season.

Are the Phillies Back on Track?

July 7, 2009
Chase Utley - AP/H. Rumph Jr.

Chase Utley - AP/H. Rumph Jr.

Last night, the Phillies pumped 10 runs down the throats of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1st inning and added an additional 12 runs for a total of 22.  It was an amazing outburst of runs for a team that had been struggling to score.  The team featured three players with 4 or more RBIs and Cole Hamels, the starting pitcher, added to 2 RBIs to his cause.  Equally important was that Cole Hamels pitched a solid 7 innings to pick up the win.  He gave up less then 3 hits and only 1 run.  Since the offense produced 10 runs in the first, it allowed Hamels to relax on the mound and pitch his game.  

After the three game sweep of the Mets and last nights victory over the Reds, the Phillies have gotten four quality starts from their starting pitching.  This allows the relief pitchers to come in to game after the 6th or 7th inning and provide a quality few innings, as opposed to long relief.  Hopefully, the pitching success will continue. 

To answer the important question – “are the Phillies back on track?” – is a bit tricky.  They have won four straight, got excellent starting pitching and scored tons of runs.  It looks like they are playing well, but let’s hold judgment until we can rule out that this isn’t just a streak, but actual consistency.  For this to be consistent, real winning baseball, the Phillies have to come from behind a few games, have their pitchers pitch out of tough jams and spots and do all the little things, like smart base running and timely pinch hits.  While I do see some consistency building, it is going to take a lot more wins and strong baseball for the Phillies to be able to put their inconsistency and slumping ways behind them.

Hamels and Run Support

May 15, 2009
Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

Yesterday, I “gamecasted” the Phillies/Dodgers tilt and followed a pretty satisfying performance from Cole Hamels.  He finished with 9 strikeouts and held the Dodgers to two runs.  However, the supposed powerful line-up from the Phillies only was able to produce 1 run for an excellent outing from Hamels.  The Phillies did score 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to send the game to extra innings only to see Chad Durbin give up two runs.  The Phillies didn’t generate any offense in the bottom of the 10th, including a strikeout from Ryan Howard to end the game.

Yes, it’s early in the season, but this trend of poor run production for your ace pitcher is not good.  I hope the team isn’t relying too heavily upon Hamels to win games himself.  Every game the Phillies should be expected to crank out runs.  They have a potentially potent and powerful offense.  If the Phillies continue to produce 1 run through 8 innings it is going to be a long World Series defending season.  

PhilaTude always stands by the Phillies and especially World Series MVP Cole Hamels, but if this blasé attitude continues from the team, the Phillies might need to shake some things up. 

Notes:  I am making the journey down to Virginia (I loathe heading south of Columbia, MD) to see the Phillies take on the Washington Nationals.  Look for my report next week on the new stadium and hopefully, the tons of Phillies fans in attendance bleeding PhilaTude.