Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Bad News from St. Louis

Cross your fingers.

Roy Halladay left today’s start in St. Louis after the second inning with what the Phillies call “shoulder soreness.” They said he left for precautionary reasons, but the fact Halladay feels anything in his shoulder is not encouraging. He told reporters in St. Louis he started to feel something in the back of his shoulder in his last start last week against Washington, but Rich Dubee said the issue has been lingering a bit longer than that. Of course, it is possible Halladay has been feeling something since spring training. Everybody remembers Ken Rosenthal‘s report from a couple scouts that Halladay lacked velocity and sharpness. Halladay denied any talk he might be injured, although he did not deny he lacked the velocity he had in the past.

“Yeah, I’m 34 and 2,500 innings, it does take a while to get going,” he said in March. “I don’t pay attention to that. The older you get, the more you throw, the longer it takes you to get yourself going. When I came up I threw 98. Last year I was throwing 92-93. It’s not unusual. When you get older it takes you longer. The more innings you throw the more it takes to get yourself going again.”

Halladay was 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in five starts in May, easing those concerns. But the discussion about his drop in velocity continued. Pitch f/x figures are not always accurate (they weren’t with Halladay early this season), but looking at those pitch f/x numbers anyway, Halladay’s sinker averaged 93.29 mph in 2010, 92.71 mph in 2011 and 91.6 mph this season. His cutter averaged 92.03 mph in 2012, 91.47 mph in 2011 and 89.58 mph this season. Dubee dismissed concerns about Halladay’s velocity, saying last month in San Francisco, “He’s got four pitches. He throws to both sides of the plate at any time. And overall he doesn’t use the meat of the plate. That’s what pitching is about. It isn’t about velocity. Velocity allows you one thing. It might allow you to get away with some mistakes. But straight velocity without location, and velocity without an option of being able to go soft or go backwards as far as pure speed, those guys get waffled.”

But another indication Halladay hasn’t been right is the fact he has thrown fewer two-seam fastballs. During his starts in 2010, 33 percent of his pitches were sinkers. In 2011 it dropped to 20 percent and this season it dropped to 16 percent. If pitchers don’t feel good about their fastball they often resort to their offspeed pitches, which could be the case here. (I recall Brett Myers relying a lot on his cutter a few years ago when he lost velocity on his fastball.)

Halladay blew a six-run lead in Atlanta on May 2, and looked bad again last week against Washington when he allowed five runs in six innings. He is 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in six starts this month. Opponents are hitting .312 against him. Asked after his start against the Nationals if he was healthy, Halladay offered a don’t-be-ridiculous smile and said, “Yeah. Yeah.”

It turns out, wasn’t.

He will get reevaluated Tuesday. I would be shocked if he made his next start, although they could skip a turn with an off day Thursday. But I would be more surprised if Halladay did not end up on the DL. He’s a $20 million pitcher and means too much to the organization to risk throwing him back out there too soon. If it really is nothing serious like Halladay believes — he said it’s different than the shoulder problem that put him on the DL twice in 2004 — there’s no harm in shutting him down for a couple weeks and making sure the shoulder gets as healthy as possible.

But serious or not, this injury certainly has several potential implications:

  • The Rotation. If Halladay misses any amount of time, Kyle Kendrick will remain in the rotation. (He has a 1.64 ERA in his last five starts.) If Vance Worley can get back in a reasonable amount of time, the rotation will include Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Worley and Kendrick. That’s not bad. But if Worley (right elbow inflammation) isn’t ready soon, the Phillies will have to look to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for a short-term replacement. Options include Dave Bush (4-3, 2.73 ERA in 9 starts), Tyler Cloyd (4-1, 2.15 ERA in six starts) and Scott Elarton (5-1, 2.98 ERA in nine starts).
  • Roy Oswalt. The Phillies watched Oswalt throw a bullpen session a couple weeks ago. It has been written Oswalt prefers to stay close to home in Mississippi, but don’t read too much into that. There were similar reports before he accepted a trade to the Phillies in 2010. If Halladay’s injury is serious and he misses a significant amount of time, Oswalt would make a lot of sense if the Phillies were willing to meet his asking price. The Phillies are still trying to stay below the $178 million luxury tax threshold, but Oswalt would put them over the top.
  • Cole Hamels. If Hamels is intent on taking the biggest offer on the open market this winter, the Phillies could make the argument they would be better served spending that money elsewhere (offense!) because they are the rare team with two other aces already in the rotation (Halladay and Lee). But if the news Tuesday is bad, the Phillies might not feel so comfortable about their pitching moving forward. Maybe it increases their urgency to sign Hamels.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • June 16: Barnes & Noble, Wilmington, Del, 2 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Lee Back on Wednesday

Cliff Lee is back.

He threw a lengthy bullpen session this morning at Nationals Park, and pronounced himself fit and ready to return to the Phillies rotation on Wednesday. He has been on the disabled list since April 19 with a strained left oblique.

“Everything is normal,” Lee said.

If he continues to feel OK – and there is no reason to think he will not – he will face the New York Mets on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. Kyle Kendrick, who had been starting in Lee’s place, will return to the bullpen.

Lee is 0-1 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Lee Could Be Back Next Week

Cliff Lee could be back in the Phillies rotation early next week.

Today he threw his first bullpen session since straining his left oblique April 18 in San Francisco. Lee reported no pain. He said if he feels fine tomorrow, he is scheduled to throw a second bullpen session Saturday. Assuming that goes well, he could pitch for the Phillies a few days later at Citizens Bank Park.

“I feel good about it,” Lee said. “If things go well, it’s one more bullpen and then the game. That’s the plan for now, but that’s all flexible.”

Lee said he has been pain-free recently.

“It did linger a little bit,” he said. “But it’s slowly gotten better. But the last two days have been drastically better than the four or five days before that. It just kind of plateaud and stayed the same. But the last two has been good.”

Asked if it is safe to say the problem is gone, Lee said, “Everything throw, I didn’t feel anything. There are a couple exercises I do where I can barely feel it, but compared to how it was before it’s pretty safe to say it’s on its way to being gone.”

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Domonic Brown strained his left hamstring today in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is day to day.

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Right-hander David Herndon has a strained pronator tendon. He is not throwing for three weeks.

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The guys at Phillies Nation TV had me on this week to talk about The Rotation. Check it out!

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.has a strained pronator tendon. He is not throwing for three weeks.

Pence: ‘I’m Letting It Eat’

Hunter Pence had a MRI exam this morning on his left shoulder.

He got good news. He has a bruised rotator cuff. There is no structural damage.

Pence, who is in the lineup for tonight’s game, said he woke up this morning feeling much better. He took the MRI and later arrived at Chase Field, where he told the Phillies he thought he could play. He took some swings in the cage with hitting coach Greg Gross and head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan watching. They determined he could play.

“When I started swinging, I’m letting it eat,” Pence said. “I’m ready to go.”

“That’s good,” Charlie Manuel said. “Then I hope it eats a lot then.”

(more…)

Pick up or Shake Up?

“Sometimes, there’s just no answers. We’re in that area right now where I don’t have any answers.” – Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies came within one out from suffering their second shutout loss in four games (and their third shutout loss in eight games) in last night’s 5-1 loss to the Padres. After today’s series finale against the Padres, the Phillies play three games against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix and four games against the Cubs at home before hitting the road for six games against Atlanta and Washington.

The Phillies are in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 21 days with 16 of those games on the road.

They are 7-8 this season, while the first-place Nationals are 12-4 and the second-place Braves are 10-5.

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Wasted

Cliff Lee’s teammates expressed their frustrations and condolences tonight at AT&T Park.

He deserved better a fate.

He pitched 10 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to the Giants in 11 innings. Lee became the first pitcher to pitch 10 innings in a game since Aaron Harang and Roy Halladay in 2007, the first pitcher to pitch 10 scoreless innings since Mark Mulder in 2005 and the first Phillies pitcher to pitch 10 innings since Terry Mulholland in 1993.

But Lee also became the first pitcher to pitch 10 scoreless innings in a losing effort since Brett Saberhagen’s Mets lost to San Diego in 1994.

“He battled,” Jim Thome said about Lee. “He battled.”

Thome sighed deeply before finishing his thought.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t help him out,” he said.

A few things on the night:

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Rollins Talks Thole Blunder

Jimmy Rollins could not believe his eyes.

In the top of the second inning in last night’s 5-2 loss to the Mets, R.A. Dickey executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Josh Thole to second base with one out. Phillies first baseman Jim Thome tagged Dickey about halfway up the first-base line and nonchalantly tossed the ball back to Cliff Lee, who believed like everybody else at Citizens Bank Park the play had ended.

In fact, Rollins motioned for Thole that he did not need to slide as he reached second base, which is something he has done since he reached the big leagues whenever there is no play at the base.

“Nice hit,” Thole told Rollins as he reached second, referring to Rollins’ first-inning double.

“Thanks,” Rollins replied.

Then Thole inexplicably turned around and walked back to first base.

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Baby, You’re (Gonna Be) A Rich Man

So we know Cole Hamels will be signing at least a five-year, $112.5 million contract.

The Giants and Matt Cain agreed to those terms yesterday, and I believe most everybody would agree Hamels is a better pitcher than Cain. Hamels is 74-54 with a 3.39 ERA since 2006, pitching half his games in cozy Citizens Bank Park. Cain is 67-72 with a 3.39 ERA since 2006, pitching half his games at canyon-esque AT&T Park. Hamels has more strikeouts (1,091 to 1,055), a better strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.74 to 2.32) and WHIP (1.14 to 1.21) in that span. He is at the top of most pitching categories in the National League since he made his big-league debut. Cain is up there with him, but Hamels is usually just a bit better.

So if Cain got that, Hamels gets what?

I wonder if the Phillies said today, “How about Cliff Lee money?” if Hamels takes it.

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Doc Gets Opening Day, Hamels Gets Home Opener

We asked nicely today, so Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee revealed his rotation to open the 2012 season:

  • April 5 in Pittsburgh: Roy Halladay
  • April 7 in Pittsburgh: Cliff Lee
  • April 8 in Pittsburgh: Vance Worley
  • April 9 vs. Miami: Cole Hamels

Dubee explained.

“Cole has had more experience,” said Dubee, asked why Hamels gets the home opener. “Hell, he’s pitched in the World Series. The big flag is out there. Not that Vance can’t handle it, but it’s a little bit of a hectic day. Any of our guys deserve to pitch the home opener or the opener of the season. This way it lines up where Cole gets it. It splits our lefties. It doesn’t put Vance in that situation. Cole is more accustomed to pitching with a lot of hoopla around.”

It is unclear when Joe Blanton would pitch, but because of two off days between the season opener April 5 and the fifth game of the season April 11, it is likely Halladay pitches April 11.

“I don’t think we’re going to let Doc sit around for seven or eight days,” Dubee said. “That’s too much.”

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Nats’ Top 3 over Doc, Cliff and Cole? Whatever

The Nationals are trying their best to build a rivalry with the Phillies in the National League East.

It started with their Take Back the Park campaign, designed to make tickets less accessible to Phillies fans for the Phillies-Nationals series May 4-6 at Nationals Park. But then Nationals manager Davey Johnson told The Washington Post the other day he would take Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann and the rest of his rotation over Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and the rest of the Phillies’ rotation, in part because of their youth and potential.

“Their top three versus our top three, stuff-wise, we match up as good,” Johnson told the Post.

“I guess that’s his opinion,” Rich Dubee said.

Asked what he thought about Johnson’s comments, Lee said, “He should (take them) because that’s his only option. It’s what he’s got to do.”

In other words, whatever.

Lee said he wouldn’t compare Halladay, Hamels and himself to any other pitchers on any team in baseball.

“I’m not trying to compare myself to anybody,” Lee said. “There’s nothing good that’s going to come out of that. I know we’re proven and we’ve shown what we can do, and if we’re healthy we stack up pretty good against anyone. I’m not going to sit here and try to create something out of nothing because to me really that’s nothing.”

Asked about the Take Back the Park campaign, Lee said, “That’s another nothing thing for me. Whatever. They should try to get more fans to come out and support them. They should expect a lot out of their team. It’s normal stuff. He should think his pitchers are better than anyone. He should think all his position players are better than anyone else. He should think he’s got the best bullpen. If he doesn’t, what’s he thinking?”

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, TBA
  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
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