Thinking of the Possibilities

hamels 0901.jpgWe have heard plenty lately about how nobody wants to face the Giants in the postseason, especially in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain?

You got a death wish or something?

But if Cole Hamels is back — he certainly looked like it tonight in a complete game 1-0 victory over the Giants — how scary does a rotation that includes Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ look?

Hamels has tied a career-high with 19 scoreless innings. Lee is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in six starts. Blanton is 7-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 17 starts since May 26. Happ is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA, making him a frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.

“If everybody pitches like they can and Joe continues to pitch the way he has then it could be a heck of a rotation,” Jimmy Rollins said. “But I think on the other side of it, we can’t count on that. If we do we’ll stop hitting. And if they count on us to keep hitting they’ll stop pitching. We go out there with a job to do on the other side of the ball, defensively and offensively, and we’ve got some pitchers who will hopefully do what they’re supposed to do on their side of the ball. If we do that we’ll be all right.”

Hamels has not allowed a run since the third inning at Citi Field on Aug. 21.

The difference? His fastball has been a big reason why he has improved. Hamels’ money pitch is his changeup, but it plays off his fastball. And lately Hamels seems to have better command of the pitch.

“He throws his fastball and changeup whenever he wants to,” Ryan Garko said. “Either one, on any count.”

“The velocity has definitely improved,” Jimmy Rollins said. “He’s throwing his fastball again, and that is making his changeup better. He’s working ahead. He’s not behind because his fastball is up and away at 88, 89 (mph). He’s throwing it down through the zone at 92. The changeup is following that same plane and it can be at times unhittable. He’ll keep you off balance, too. In and out. The way he’s been doing that lately, he didn’t have that. He tried to come in and it was right down the middle and they weren’t missing. And now he’s got a little angle back, and that helps his confidence.”

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Brett Myers struck out two in a scoreless inning tonight for Triple A Lehigh Valley. The radar gun showed Myers throwing 92 mph, but Tyler Walker pointed out in the Phillies clubhouse that the gun there is slow, so he probably is throwing a couple mph harder than that.

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23 Comments

Look at JRoll, the pitching analyst. LOL!! He’s auditioning for Joe Morgan’s job.

If Jimmy wants Joe Morgan’s job he can have it. I’d be fine with Eric Bruntlett as starter for life if it meant I never had to hear Morgan “analyze” baseball again.

lets relax with the Morgan commentary and focus on what we really should be focused on: Cole Hamels. Looks like he’s finally turned the metaphoric “corner,” and just at the right time. Right now we have 4 pitchers who are throwing lights out. One more strong outing by Hamels (and it shouldnt be hard considering its gonna be Houston), and everyone has to be convinced he got his mojo back. i cant see why we wont win a WS again if that happens.

Hamels really looked like the Hamels we know and love last night. He was really in the zone. Also how about Howard playing some small ball last night (2 double and 1 with a RBI)! Good new about Myers too :-)

As for Joe Morgan, I have a soft spot for him since he’s one of my all-time favorite players. One of the best batting stances ever.

While I liked Morgan as a player (even on the Reds) I hate what I’ve heard him do as an analyst. That said, I think that allowing Brunlett to start just to shut him up may be a bit drastic and overly expensive……
A week or go I mentioned that it seemed as if Hamels problem was a mental one and finding the confidence to pitch his game, and not the game he thought he was supposed to be throwing. The last two starts we’ve seen Hamels pitch his games. Fast ball setting up Change-up with a breaking ball every now and then for balance. Now, if only Ibanez and Stairs would find their Rhythm

Todd or someone, did I image it or did Cole’s fastball average 94-95 mph for most of the season? The last 3 games or so I noticed the drop in velocity to his average speed last year 89-91 mph. Yet Jimmy said, “The velocity has definitely improved.” Has he been throwing slower than 89 mph before his recent turn around? I’m confused anyway….

I think Jimmy was referring to the movement on it. As I tried to explain last week, he was so caught up in being an “ACE” that he was throwing and not pitching. Overthrowing caused increase speed, but a flatter pitch which was easier to hit and harder to control.

The Phils have played 4 fewer games than the Cards. Having to play 4 more games in the same period of time could wear the team out by the time they have to start the playoffs. I suppose we will be seeing a lot more playing time for the key role players, and I guess Jamie will be starting one of the games in each of the double headers that are scheduled for this month. I just hope and pray that the Phils stay healthy through this loooooong end of the season.

Erich, I would be highly surprised if we didn’t see stairs start a few games, Brunlett start a few and Dobbs start a few when he gets back from DL. Francisco will get a few starts and I imagine that the 3rd catcher may get a spot start or two.

While not playing “Kids” we will need to give the regulers a rest while trying to get the bench’s bats in rhythm.

Who is this “third catcher” of which you speak? I think they’re fine with Bako and Ruiz until the playoffs.

The Phillies historically bring up a third catcher in Sept to allow them to give the 2 regulers a few games/innings off. It also allows the next in line catcher, who may have to become the #2 due to injury, to meet and get to know the staff a bit. If you recall, Marson was saying how much his time with the team last year in Spet and playoffs (As bull pen catcher) helped his defense and game calling

Well, they have Kennelly and Nelson in Reading, hitting .252 and .254 respectively; and Paul Hoover and Tuffy Gosewisch in Lehigh Valley. Hoover is hitting .253 and Gosewisch is hitting .138. Then there’s a guy named Tim Gradonville that I can’t find any stats for.
I don’t think any of those guys are half the prospect that Marson was, so if they’re called up it might be “tradition” but it wouldn’t be on merit.
It isn’t a rich and fertile environment for catchers. We’d better hope Carlos stays healthy for a few more years at least.

Thje only other catcher on the 40 man roster is Joe Naughton, and he hasn’t played above A level yet. I’d be surprised if he gets called up.
Cole’s velocity is down because he realized that he lost control of both his fastball and changeup when he threw harder. He is able to hit spots now like he did last September and October (check his stats from last year; he started pitching like an ‘ace’ in September) and hopefully, like last year, he’ll settle into a nice groove. He’s been throwing strikes with all his pitches lately and his strike/ball ratio is terrific. He may snatch back that #1 spot from Lee.

If Hamels and lidge are REALLy back on track, the ONLY concern I would have as a life long Phillies fan is the poor hitting/ contact with RISP, and less than 2 outs. Too many Ks. Need to manufacture more runs against better pitching in the playoffs.
As far as Joe Morgan goes as an analyst, I think he is great! He is honest, objective and gives insights that ONLY a former player would give without the homerism of ” Wheels” and ” LA” and the other Phillies broadcasters. And as for Gary Matthews, nice guy BUT that ” cadillac time” line each time a phillies player hits a home run, is obnoxious. None of these guys are even CLOSE to the late, great Harry and ” Whitey”.

Here is the next best hope at catcher (Travis D’Arnaud) and he will probably start at Clearwater next season. He’s a long way off….

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=darnau001tra

dolfanman93: You forgot Scott Franske. He’s a great play-by-play guy. He calls a great game and knows exactly what’s going on when it happens, and doesn’t have to go back and re-cap like some guys do. He’s a pleasure to listen to, and I don’t mind missing a game on TV as long as I can listen to him do the radio broadcast.
If I were in the Phils media department, I’d lock him up for the next 10 years.

yeah, D’Arnaud is at least two years away, but it probably makes sense to call him up if anyone. I like the idea of young players getting to be with the team during Sept if for no other reason then a way of the team saying “good job” this season.
For the first time in a while I’m confident that we will go VERY far in the post season.

For a great breakdown on the Hamels velocity issue, check out Dave Murphy’s Daily News blog.
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies/
He discussses the topic in depth and it is really quite good.

f.i.j.: Actually, the comments from the Phillies over calling up kids was that they don’t want to bring them in to disrupt the locker room. They said they’re focused on bringing in players who have been there before, so that the guys are familiar with each other.
We’ve discussed the “chemistry” issue, but I think from the club’s standpoint they don’t want to mess with success. It looks as though they have their priorities straight and aren’t looking to reward anyone.

Which players have said that? It doesn’t make any sense. What are two or three extra warm bodies in the clubhouse going to do to the mystical magical (but undefined) “chemistry” going on in there? What they will do is provide extra help in stretches where players are fatigued, some quality pinch running if any of the Molasses crew gets on base, and stress relief for when the bullpen gets overworked. These are all invaluable things in September, which is why all teams do it, even those in the hunt, and why nobody gripes about “chemistry” for no reason.

I agree that we don’t need to bring up 15 guys just because we can, however 5 or so whoud be a huge help. As Phylan says, a pinch runner (the guy from AA or this Goose kid), Mayberry, an infielder and one or two arms as well as a catcher. Most will have already been on the team at some point, and the ones who havent’ will be so star-shocked at first that they’ll sit quietly until told to jump (and then they’ll ask “how high?”)

debindixie, I posted the same theory after the game last night, and earlier on this board. The change in speed was impossible not to notice on MLB.com’s Gameday.

phylan: The players didn’t say it. Management did.

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