The Pitching Picture

hamels 0418 2010.jpgCole Hamels pitched great yesterday, which almost made yesterday’s 2-0 loss to the Marlins feel like a victory.

Almost.

The way the Phillies’ rotation has looked lately, it needed Hamels to flash the signs he flashed in Spring Training, namely, that he looked like the ’08 Hamels, not the ’09 Hamels. I never thought Hamels pitched terribly in his first two starts, so I never worried. He had poor command against Washington on April 7 and was a check-swing away from allowing just one run through his first four innings against the Nationals last Wednesday. But there is no question the Phillies’ rotation needed somebody to step up other than Roy Halladay, who is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

Joe Blanton remains on the DL, although he could be back following the team’s nine-game road trip through Atlanta, Arizona and San Francisco. He makes a rehab start Tuesday with Single-A Lakewood. J.A. Happ (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has soreness in his left forearm and might miss his next start — maybe more. He will throw today at Citizens Bank Park. If he feels fine, he could start as early as Wednesday in Atlanta. If he doesn’t feel fine? It could be a problem. It goes without saying the Phillies need the rotation to stay healthy because the back end of the rotation is struggling: Jamie Moyer is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA and Kyle Kendrick is 0-0 with a 17.47 ERA.

The Phillies don’t need a fifth starter until Saturday, so the Phillies can give Happ time to rest. But when Saturday rolls around in Arizona they’ll need a fifth starter. If Happ can’t pitch I’m guessing Nelson Figueroa takes the spot.

Tuesday is a big start for Kendrick. He not only is pitching for his spot in the rotation, but possibly his spot on the team. Kendrick took Blanton’s spot in the rotation, so when Blanton is back Kendrick is out. Finding a spot for Kendrick looks difficult, at least in the short term.

J.C. Romero could be back sometime during this road trip. He likely will replace Antonio Bastardo. Brad Lidge could be back following the road trip. I think the Phillies will try to keep David Herndon on the 25-man roster. (They must keep him on the roster or they likely lose him because he’s a Rule 5 Draft pick.) That means Lidge might take Figueroa’s spot in the bullpen. But if Blanton returns before Lidge, the Phillies might option Kendrick to the Minors and bring him back as the long man once they lose Figueroa. Figueroa is out of options and must clear outright waivers to send him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As well as he has pitched, I can’t see that happening.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

12 Comments

What a beautiful morning in the neighborhood. I wake up this morning and, what do you know, the Phillies are still in first place, playing .666 ball. Cole Hamels pitched an excellent game. But it just goes to show you that you can’t always take solace in the fact that Cole allows only one home run and that it was a solo shot at that just as you can’t take solace in the fact that Jamie Moyer’s record shows he is thus far a .500 pitcher given the fact he has an ERA of 7.50. He looks good only in comparison to Kendrick. This in turn begs the question, who has the greater up side, Moyer or Kendrick? Much stock is given to the mental composition of young players. How is Kendrick’s mental composition helped by the Phillies jerking him around. He is a starter one day and a reliever the next; he is going to be sent down; he isn’t going to be sent down. Tell him he is going to get three starts in a row no matter what and stick with the plan. Anyone else notice that both Kris Benson and Rodrigo Lopez have both started games for the D’backs?

Hamels’ recent starts show why you can’t always use won-lost records as a gauge of success. He was 2-0 with a 5.06 ERA and lost a brilliant game yesterday. If he’s finding himself, now is a perfect time. If yesterday was an aberration, we’ll know soon enough.

“They say” Kendrick has had a ‘deer in the headlights’ look, but I don’t know. Mentally, it’s tough to go out thinking that your mistakes could cost you a roster spot.

Benson and Lopez in anyone’s starting rotation speaks volumes of the dearth of pitching, the ills of a 5-man rotation and over-expansion.

I don’t think the Phillies are doing Kendrick any disservice by having expectations. He knew that Blanton was going ot miss at least 4-5 starts and that was plenty of time for him to show his stuff as a sterter. He has failed miserably to date and Tuesday is an important day for him. If he pitches like he has, it’s time to send him to AAA and let him work it out. I don’t even want him in the bullpen.
Pedro….oh, Pedro…..you there? Let’s talk.

In lieu of Philly fans taking another hit because of the obnoxious behavior of ONE fan the other night, how classy was it that the fans at yesterday’s game gave Hamels a standing-O as he left the field even though he was losing at the time?! Very cool!

I think Kendrick needs to show a bit more moxy. I hope he can turn it around soon. Let’s compare his situation to Happ’s last year. Happ was under constant flux btwn starting in the pen, then being a starter, then being a part of trade rumors then back to the pen in the post season. Yet he managed a terrific year and always looks very much in control even when things might not be going his way.

Phan52: Paging Dr. Pedro!

Yes, the Phillies knew Blanton is/was going to miss 4 or 5 starts. But Kendrick’s start tomorrow is only his third. It would not have hurt for the Phillies to have told him he was going to get the first three at least, no matter what, instead of all of this speculation from start to start. Who knows? Maybe this what the Phillies told him in private. But, if they did, they should have said it publicly as well. The Phillies’ concern appears to be in direct proportion to salary.

No more drama, no more Pedro!

I don’t know what ‘speculation’ you are talking about pherris. When Blanton went down, Kendirick was his replacement. There was no ‘speculation'; unless you are talking about spring training and his competition for the #5 spot with Moyer, but that is a whole other thing.

karen: Yes, the ovation for Cole was classy, but why no tip of the cap from him? What did he become Ted Williams all of a sudden? [historical reference].

The cap tip is a lost art. You don’t see many players tip their cap anymore.
I’m not expecting him to bow, but a little acknowledgement would have been nice. If you’re not going to tip your cap, then don’t high-five your teammates either.
Discuss.

Muleman: I thought I saw him acknowledge the fans or the Ump with a wave or some gesture. At least it looked that way on TV. I’ll admit it was quick and not that noticeable. Also I don’t think he high-fived anyone in the dugout. Usually you see players tip their cap for an encore after they’ve gone into the dugout (after a big HR usually).

karen: That’s Jamie’s gig – thanking the umpire. Maybe Cole did, I don’t know. TV showed his walk off the mound into the dugout.
Missanelli also wondered why he didn’t tip his cap.

I like the “Clammy Sosa” swallowing the umpire bit more than thanking him.

I think most of Kyles problems stem from his thinking he would be pitching out of the pen. He wasn’t told he would be starting until several days after he thought he was going to be pitching out of the pen. I’m sure his preparation for pitching changed and that his pitching is suffering as a result of that. I still have faith that Kyle has what it takes to beat Hansen tomorrow. BUT he will need to stop leaving so many of his pitches up in the nitro-zone of every hitter. GO KYLE!! GO PHILS!!!

I think most of Kyles problems stem from his thinking he would be pitching out of the pen. He wasn’t told he would be starting until several days after he thought he was going to be pitching out of the pen. I’m sure his preparation for pitching changed and that his pitching is suffering as a result of that. I still have faith that Kyle has what it takes to beat Hansen tomorrow. BUT he will need to stop leaving so many of his pitches up in the nitro-zone of every hitter. GO KYLE!! GO PHILS!!!

sorry I double-posted. The library computer has a 120 second delay for posting here. I didn’t know. MY BAD.

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