Results tagged ‘ Grover Cleveland Alexander ’

Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt: Best Phillies Trio Ever?

hamels 0504 2010.jpgInterest in this week’s Braves series turned from 10 to 11 after the Phillies shuffled their rotation to have Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt face Atlanta.

They’re the Big Three.

They might be the Biggest Three in Phillies history.

Has there been a better trio of starting pitchers on any team since the Phillies joined the NL in 1883? I explored that in a story for MLB.com, which can be found here.

I could not find one, and I asked around. There were great duos. Robin Roberts had Curt Simmons. Jim Bunning had Chris Short. Grover Cleveland Alexander had Eppa Rixey. Steve Carlton had Jim Lonborg, Larry Christenson, Dick Ruthven and John Denny in different seasons. But none of them had what the 2010 Phillies have:

- Three pitchers with incredible resumes and reputations. Halladay is a former Cy Young winner, who dominated the American League East for years before he joined the Phillies. He is a good candidate for the Hall of Fame, according to Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame tests. Oswalt has been one of the top pitchers in the National League for years. He is a two-time, 20-game winner who earned 2005 NLCS MVP honors. Hamels is the youngest pitcher of the bunch, but he earned 2008 World Series and MVP honors.
- Three pitchers pitching at their peaks.
- Three pitchers who could be aces anywhere else.

For example: Alexander pitched with Rixey for a few seasons. Both are Hall of Famers, but it was early in Rixey’s career. He broke out in 1916, when he went 22-10 with a 1.85 ERA. But the third starter that season was Al Demaree, who was not considered anything special. He certainly couldn’t lead a pitching staff, like Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. I found similar situations with other Phillies aces like Roberts, Bunning, Carlton and Curt Schilling.

There have been seasons where the Phillies have had good years from three starters, but the third starter (and sometimes even the second starter) was a one-year wonder, before his prime or after his prime. Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels are not that.

Agree? Disagree? Be curious to see which trio you would take over the Big Three.

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

Lee, Phillies Own Game 1

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A couple quick hits from Game 1 of the NLDS at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies beat the Rockies, 5-1:

  • Cliff Lee became the eighth pitcher in Phillies postseason history to throw a complete game. It was the ninth complete game in Phillies postseason history — Grover Cleveland Alexander threw two in the 1915 World Series — and the first since Curt Schilling threw a shutout in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series.
  • Lee’s stolen base in the third inning is the first by a Phillies pitcher in postseason history. He is just the fourth pitcher in baseball history to steal a base in the postseason: Wild Bill Donovan (1908), Billy Loes (1952) and John Smoltz (1991, 1992 and 1995) were the others.
  • Jim Tracy on Lee : “He got really, really good as the game went on. To the point where by the third inning, I don’t know if he missed a spot.”
  • Lee on pitching in windy conditions. He was asked about getting blown off the mound: “Did I get blown off the mound? … Oh, the wind. I thought you were talking about them stroking me.”
  • Charlie Manuel on Lee’s stolen base: “I thought, what in the hell is he doing?”
  • Jimmy Rollins made a couple nice catches in foul territory. The first came in the third inning against Dexter Fowler and the second came in the seventh inning against Todd Helton. The seventh inning catch was much more impressive because the wind really changed the ball’s direction. “Dexter’s was pretty much routine,” Rollins said. “I practice that a lot actually. The other one reminded me of the one in the World Series (Game 5) just without the rain. Pedro (Feliz) and I were both breaking back like wide receiver and DB. I saw the quarterback get hit and he didn’t, and I retraced the route and came in on the ball.”
  • Jayson Werth has hit safely in 10 consecutive postseason games: (.359, 14-39, four doubles, one home run, three RBIs, eight walks).
  • Carlos Ruiz has hit safely in five consecutive postseason games: .438, 7-16, home run, three RBIs).
  • The Phillies have won eight consecutive postseason games at the Bank.
  • Rollins on the postseason and winning Game 1: “Finally, it’s here. We can finally let the wins actually count for something. You win, it’s one less game you have to win to go to the next round. One down, 10 more to go.”

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Happ Having A Special Season

Thumbnail image for happ 0805b.jpgTaking the elevator from the press box to the visitor’s clubhouse last night at Citi Field, I was thinking about J.A. Happ‘s season and started wondering how good his rookie year is compared to other rookie years in Phillies history.

It turns out it is very good.

He is 10-2 with a 2.59 ERA following a 4-1 victory over the Mets. The last Phillies rookie to win 11 games? Bob Walk in 1980. The last Phillies rookie to win 12 or more games? Tom Underwood in 1975, when he won 14.

The last Phillies rookie to finish with a lower ERA than Happ’s current 2.59?

Eppa Rixey‘s 2.50 ERA in 1912.

Grover Cleveland Alexander holds the franchise record with 28 wins for a rookie. He accomplished that in 1911, when he went 28-13 with a 2.57 ERA. (Old Pete threw 367 innings his rookie season.)

“J.A. does not pitch like he’s a young pitcher,” said Brad Lidge, who pitched a perfect ninth to earn 24th save. “He pitches like he’s been under pressure his whole life. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. He’s getting guys out, especially with runners in scoring position. He’s just very hard to hit. He’s got deception. He’s got location. And his ball has got life on it. When he keeps doing what he’s been doing, we’ve got tons of confidence. Honestly, he’s pitching like he’s one of the best pitchers in the National League. I know he’s a rookie, but it is what it is. He’s pitching like one of the best guys in the National League.”

Happ’s ERA is the lowest for any rookie pitcher anywhere since Hideo Nomo in 1995, when he had a 2.54 ERA.

In the previous 50 seasons (1959-2008), just 10 rookie pitchers have had lower ERAs than Happ’s current ERA:

  • Stan Bahnsen‘s 2.05 ERA in 1968
  • Jerry Koosman‘s 2.08 ERA in 1968
  • Jon Matlack‘s 2.32 ERA in 1972
  • Gary Peters‘ 2.33 ERA in 1963
  • Mark Fidrych‘s 2.33 ERA in 1976
  • Fernando Valenzuela‘s 2.48 ERA in 1981
  • Ken Forsch‘s 2.53 ERA in 1971
  • Nomo’s 2.54 ERA in 1995
  • Al Downing‘s 2.56 ERA in 1963
  • Gary Nolan‘s 2.58 ERA in 1967.

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