Results tagged ‘ Joe Blanton ’

Phillies Add Kendrick, Keep Brown, Dropps Dobbs

kendrick 0719 2010.jpgThe Phillies announced their NLCS roster.

They added Kyle Kendrick as the 11th pitcher, kept Domonic Brown and dropped Greg Dobbs.

“It’s great,” Brown said, who went 0 for 1 and scored a run in the NLDS. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be on the roster, but it has turned into another great experience for me.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. said manager Charlie Manuel made the final decision. He said Manuel felt Brown “would bring a little bit more to the table. It was a tough decision. Charlie ultimately felt like it was the right thing for us to do.”

Brown hit .210 (13 for 62) with three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs during the regular season. Dobbs hit .198 (32 for 163) with seven doubles, five home runs and 15 RBIs. Manuel said Brown’s and Dobbs’ offense was equal. He said Brown’s speed was an advantage over Dobbs, although he said Dobbs’ experience and ability to play the infield were important.

Not important enough.

“I thought that maybe my postseason experience and how well I’ve done in the postseason might play a role in it,” Dobbs said. “Being an older veteran, more experienced, more versatile, I thought that would play in my favor. Obviously, it did not.”

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Manuel Announces NLCS Rotation

Charlie Manuel announced this morning on WIP his rotation for the National League Championship Series:

Game 1: Roy Halladay.

Game 2: Roy Oswalt.

Game 3: Cole Hamels.

Game 4: Joe Blanton.

Game 5: Roy Halladay.

Game 6: Roy Oswalt.

Game 7: Cole Hamels.

Nothing surprising there. I thought maybe they might flip Oswalt and Hamels, but it works either way. I figured Blanton would start — Manuel said they might go with Halladay, but only if they’re down in the series — because it only makes sense to have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels on normal rest in Games 5, 6 and 7. The Phillies have never pitched anybody on short rest in postseasons past, so why would they start now with their best rotation? Pitching should not be the issue this series. If the Phillies hit a little bit, they should win.

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Manuel Keeps Quiet on Big Roy, Rotation, NLCS Roster

Charlie Manuel talked to reporters for 15 minutes before today’s simulated game at Citizens Bank Park.

Here’s a synopsis:

He said they have not decided on their rotation for the NLCS. Manuel wouldn’t even say Roy Halladay would pitch Game 1. Seriously.

“You can assume whatever you want to assume,” Manuel said. “I’m not trying to be cute.”

But then Manuel finally tipped his hand.

“Big Roy is Big Roy,” he said.

Halladay will pitch Game 1. Not sure about the rest. Manuel said they definitely could pitch Joe Blanton in Game 4, which would allow the Phillies to pitch Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels on normal rest in Games 5, 6 and 7.

Manuel also said they have decided nothing on their NLCS roster, although they would carry 11 pitchers instead of 10 if they decide Blanton will start Game 4.

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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!

Best NL Record Would Benefit Phillies in NLDS

halladay hamels.jpgThe Phillies have a half-game lead over the Braves in the NL East and the best record in the league.

They obviously have plenty of incentive to win their fourth consecutive division title and finish with the best record in the league — and it has more to do that just having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Because of scheduling reasons, the top NL team this year has the option of playing an eight-day NLDS or a seven-day NLDS.

An eight-day NLDS would have a clear benefit to the Phillies.

If they play an eight-day NLDS, they would have to pitch only Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels — and none of them would have to pitch on short rest. If they played a seven-day NLDS, they would have to use a fourth starter (Joe Blanton) or pitch Halladay (or whomever starts Game 1) on short rest in Game 4.

Running Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt out there in a five-game series certainly is enticing for the Phillies.

“It obviously sets us up for success, but I think more excitement,” Hamels said. “It sets us up for excitement because we have guys that have the experience or ultimately some of the best pitchers in the game. I think that’s how you have to look at it. We obviously busted our tail to get there, but we have the guys to finish the series.

“That’s what makes it uncomfortable for the opposing team. To come in, not look at anybody and go, ‘We can probably get a couple runs out of this guy,’ or, ‘This guy we might as well just hang it up.’ That’s kind of what we have. When the postseason comes it’s about three guys that go. We definitely do have those good three guys and we have an unbelievably good fourth guy. But you do have to get there.”

Here’s a look at how an eight-day series differs from a seven-day series:

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Projecting the Rotation

The Phillies have not said if Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley or Nate Robertson will be pitching Saturday against the Mets at Citi Field.

We know Roy Halladay is pitching Friday and Roy Oswalt is pitching Sunday. That keeps the Phillies in position to set up their rotation so Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels face the Braves in both three-game series against them later this month. Here is how the Phillies could setup their rotation. Days of rest are in parentheses. Four-days rest is normal rest. Five-days rest is an extra day of rest:

  • Monday at FLA: Joe Blanton (5)
  • Tuesday at FLA: Cole Hamels (5)
  • Wedneday at FLA: Roy Halladay (4)
  • Sept. 16: OFF
  • Sept. 17 vs. WASH: Roy Oswalt (4)
  • Sept. 18 vs. WASH: Kendrick, Worley or Robertson (6)
  • Sept. 19 vs. WASH: Blanton (5)
  • Sept. 20 vs. ATL: Hamels (5)
  • Sept. 21 vs. ATL: Halladay (5)
  • Sept. 22 vs. ATL: Oswalt (4)
  • Sept. 23: OFF
  • Sept. 24 vs. NYM: Blanton (4)
  • Sept. 25 vs. NYM: Kendrick, Worley or Robertson (6)
  • Sept. 26 vs. NYM: Hamels (5)
  • Sept. 27 at WASH: Halladay (5)
  • Sept. 28 at WASH: Oswalt (5)
  • Sept. 29 at WASH: Blanton (4)
  • Sept. 30: OFF
  • Oct. 1: Hamels (4)
  • Oct. 2: Halladay (4)
  • Oct. 3: Oswalt (4)

The way this sets up, no Phillies pitcher will have to pitch on short rest down the stretch. It also gives the big guns most of the starts with the fifth starter getting just 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!

Blanton Pitching Solidly Since Break

blanton 0828 2010.jpgWe know how dominant Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have been this season.

Halladay is second out of 50 qualifying pitchers in the National League with a 2.22 ERA. Oswalt is 13th with a 3.12 ERA and Hamels is 19th with a 3.47 ERA. They are a scary trio should the Phillies make the playoffs. But what must be encouraging to Charlie Manuel is the way Joe Blanton has pitched lately. He is 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. If Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton keep pitching like they have down the stretch, they should have a chance to win a good chuck of their remaining games — if the offense ever gets on track.

Blanton had a 6.41 ERA in 13 starts before the break. He followed a similar path last season. He had a 7.11 ERA after eight starts in 2009, but had a 3.16 ERA in 23 starts the rest of the way.

I’m sure that’s not how Blanton drew it up, but that is the way it has gone so far.

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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!

The Need for Pitching

moyer 0715 2010.jpgRuben Amaro Jr. has said a few times this week that Cliff Lee and Jarrod Washburn were the only two starting pitchers traded before last year’s trade deadline. (Amaro forgot Jake Peavy, although the guy was traded when he was hurt so I’m not sure he counts anyway.)

And last year Amaro said CC Sabathia and Joe Blanton were the only two starting pitchers traded before the 2008 trade deadline.

His point: Trading for pitching is hard.

I mentioned earlier this week that Phillies starting pitchers had a respectable 3.95 ERA before the All-Star break. They have a 4.02 ERA after Jamie Moyer‘s poor showing last night at Wrigley Field.

And that is why Amaro and Charlie Manuel would love to find starting pitching before July 31: Remove Roy Halladay from the equation and the rotation has a 4.68 ERA. Remove Halladay and Cole Hamels from the equation and the rotation has a 4.99 ERA. Now, I know you can’t just throw out Halladay’s and Hamels’ numbers. But Amaro and Manuel see the other three spots and wonder how they’re going to catch the Braves in the NL East with so much inconsistency.

The Braves are on pace to win 97 games, but let’s say they stumble a bit in the second half and finish with 92. The Phillies would need to go 45-29 (.608) the rest of the way just to tie them.

The Rockies are on pace to win the NL wild card with 90 wins. Even then the Phillies would need to go 43-31 (.581) the rest of the way to tie.

Here is a look at the Phillies’ winning percentages following the All-Star break under Manuel and the starting pitcher they acquired before or just after the July 31 trade deadline:

  • 2005: .589 (None)
  • 2006: .600 (Jamie Moyer)
  • 2007: .608 (Kyle Lohse)
  • 2008: .606 (Joe Blanton)
  • 2009: .592 (Cliff Lee)
  • 2010: TBD (TBD)

Do the Phillies have the pitching for another strong finish, especially with the offense struggling compared to seasons past? No doubt that is why Amaro and Manuel keep saying they would prefer pitching help over infield help before the trade deadline.

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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!

Turning Things Around?

howard 0617 2010.jpg

The Phillies were stuck in an 8-17 slump before Jamie Moyer beat the Yankees last night and Kyle Kendrick beat them tonight. The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Yankees. It’s just their second series victory since May 15-17, when they swept the Brewers in Milwaukee. They finished 3-3 on a road trip that couldn’t have started worse with Moyer allowing nine runs in one-plus inning Friday in Boston and Joe Blanton allowing nine runs in four innings Saturday.

It has been a grueling stretch, but maybe this is a sign of a turnaround.

We won’t know that until the Phillies finish their nine-game home stand against the Twins, Indians and Blue Jays. But the Phillies have looked a little looser the last couple games. It’s not why they won, but I thought it was interesting that Chase Utley, who rarely shows his sense of humor to the outside world, tried to loosen up the clubhouse. He arranged bats, fruits, batting gloves, vitamins, a can of Red Bull and a tin of chewing tobacco in a crop circle-like pattern next to his locker before last night’s game. Then in a nod to the movie Major League, a Darth Maul bobble head, a miniature bottle of rum and a shot glass full of rum sat in the locker next to his before Thursday’s game.

“I think it was like a couple years ago (in the 2008 World Series) when Charlie put the rubber ducks in everybody’s locker,” Ryan Howard said. “Just try to loosen everybody up and play. Right now it’s whatever works.”

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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!

Happ on the DL

Here’s a rundown of today’s news that J.A. Happ is on the DL, J.C. Romero took his place on the 25-man roster and Nelson Figueroa will make a spot start Saturday in Arizona:

  • The Phillies think Happ’s return to the rotation could be closer to weeks than a month. He is eligible to be activated as early as May 1 because he has not pitched since April 15. Happ had the same injury (strained flexor pronator muscle in his left arm) in 2007, so he is familiar with the injury. He said it has improved since his last start, but he still felt some discomfort in a 20-pitch bullpen session this afternoon. Happ will remain with the team and continue to throw, although he will not throw off the mound until they determine he is ready.
  • They do not think Happ needs further medical testing. He had a MRI last Friday.
  • Figueroa will pitch Saturday because the Phillies said he is their best option. Andrew Carpenter got bumped from tonight’s start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but the Phillies said that was precautionary. I’m guessing they held him out in case Jamie Moyer got knocked out early tonight and had to use Figueroa.
  • The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until May 4 against the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park, which helps the Phillies while Happ and Joe Blanton are out.
  • Blanton could be back May 3, which means the Phillies would not need to call up a pitcher from Triple-A to take Happ’s spot. Blanton will make his second rehab start Friday with Double-A Reading. He could make his third and final rehab start next Wednesday.

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Placido Polanco is not in the lineup tonight, but he said he expects to play tomorrow night in Arizona.

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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!

Happ on the Mend


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for happ 0805.jpgJ.A. Happ
sounds a frustrated man.

He will miss at least his next start because the Phillies said he has a “very mild” flexor pronator muscle strain in his left arm. Ruben Amaro Jr. said a MRI revealed no structural damage. Happ will try to throw in the bullpen Thursday, and the possibility still exists he could start Saturday in Arizona.

That is the best-case scenario. Another possibility is that Happ pushes himself and pitches before he is ready.

“You definitely can do more damage,” Happ said today at Turner Field. “That’s why it’s frustrating. I don’t have much to say about it, other than I just hope it keeps progressing. It’s progressing. It just needs to continue, that’s all. I know what it can do. I know it can be kind of a debilitating injury.”

Happ suffered a similar injury in 2007, when he made his Major League debut with the Phillies. The Phillies cancelled Happ’s participation in the Arizona Fall League as a result. He pitched without incident in 2008 and 2009.

“It’s not very good,” said Happ, asked about the first time he experienced the soreness.

Phillies fans might recall that J.C. Romero suffered similar soreness in his left forearm last season. Romero tried to rehab the injury, but ultimately required tendon surgery in October. Brad Lidge also had the same flexor pronator tendon surgery in the offseason.

“J.C. had a tear,” Amaro said. “He had a tear and it had to be tacked down. His was pretty significant and that’s why his was tacked down. Brad’s wasn’t as significant. It didn’t have to be tacked down. … (Happ) has some inflammation, which you classify as a strain. And it is viewed as a Grade 1 strain, so pretty mild. Could he have pitched in his turn? Probably. Would we want to risk it? Probably not. That’s what we decided just to push him back and see how he feels after two more down days and some rehab days.”

The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until Saturday. If Happ is unable to pitch, Nelson Figueroa could start. If Happ requires a trip to the disabled list, the Phillies would make a roster move at that time.

“That’s one the reasons why we’re trying to be cautious with him,” Amaro said. “Like I said, there’s no structural damage, but he’s got some inflammation there. Rather than risk it and push him we’ll be cautious. If he’s not 100 percent after his bullpen on Thursday we’ll do something else. You don’t want to risk any further damage.”

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Joe Blanton struck out two in two scoreless innings tonight in Single-A Lakewood.

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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!

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