Results tagged ‘ Rich Dubee ’

Halladay A Little Ahead Of Schedule

Roy Halladay entered the visitor’s clubhouse Friday afternoon at Marlins Park drenched in sweat.

He just threw 33 pitches in his first bullpen session since he landed on the disabled list in May with a strained latissimus dorsi. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Halladay is a little bit ahead of schedule – more days than weeks, he stressed – and is “progressing nicely.”

“It is quicker than the doctor probably thought?” Dubee said. “It might be a few days, but not major. But his work ethic dictates that, too.”

The Phillies originally offered a six-to-eight week timetable for Halladay’s return to the mound for the Phillies.

Could Halladay be back closer to six weeks than eight? It certainly seems possible.

“We’ll see when that day arrives,” Dubee said.

Dubee declined to say when Halladay might throw his second bullpen session or how close he might be to a rehab start.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Dubee said. “What he’s going to do after this is undetermined.”

Rotation Problems

The numbers can be sliced and rearranged a number of ways, but one thing is undeniable:

The Phillies have not seen their rotation pitch this poorly in a long time.

In 24 games since May 18, Phillies starters are 6-12 with a 5.70 ERA (91 earned runs in 143 2/3 innings). In 15 games since May 27, when Roy Halladay pitched his final game for the Phillies before landing on the disabled list with a strained right latissimus dorsi, Phillies starters are 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA (59 earned runs in 89 innings).

“It’s a whole gamut of things,” Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said.

Much of it is mental.

“One starter thinks I’ve got to be the guy tonight,” Dubee said. “And then when that doesn’t happen the next guy says, oh, geez, I’ve got to really be good. It’s been a mishmash of all kinds of stuff. Focus. We get distracted easily. Do we press? Yeah, absolutely.”

The lack of focus comes from frustration; things that happen on the field out of their control. That could be a booted ball in the infield. A broken bat hit that scores a run. It could be a dropped fly ball in the outfield or an errant throw. Maybe it is a really good pitch down in the dirt that a hitters golfs out of the park or off the wall. It could be the offense failing to score runs for them again.

“There’s a whole combination of stuff out there,” Dubee said.

Offense has not been a problem for the Phillies lately. They are fifth in the National League in scoring since May 18, averaging 4.67 runs per game, and third in scoring since Halladay’s last start for the Phillies, averaging 5.13 runs per game.

But the errors and a lack of run support over a long period of time can wear on even the most steely-minded pitcher. Even Halladay seemed to be worn down from those issues before he got hurt.

But what can Phillies pitchers do?

“Stay in your own house,” Dubee said. “Control what you can control. Execute pitches. Don’t get caught up on a broken bat hit or a play not being made or runs not being scored. You don’t have any control over that as a pitcher. You don’t have control winning games. Cliff (Lee) hasn’t had any luck or control in winning a game. All you can do is execute pitches and grind and grind and grind.”

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.

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Where’s Doc’s Velocity? It’s Right There

Maybe Roy Halladay is perfectly fine.

He certainly looks like the same dominant Cy Young Award-caliber pitcher he has been for more than a decade. He allowed two runs in eight innings last night in a 5-2 victory over the Giants to improve to 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA after three starts. In a league-leading 23 innings, he has allowed just 14 hits, three runs and four walks. He has struck out 14.

But pitch f/x, which MLB Gameday uses to chart pitch velocity and movement, has shown a drop in Halladay’s velocity, which has stirred discussion and concern among nervous Phillies fans, who already are worried about Ryan Howard’s and Chase Utley’s health. Halladay’s two-seam fastball has averaged 90.71 mph this season, compared to 92.71 mph in 2011, 93.29 mph in 2010 and 93.74 mph in 2009. His cutter has averaged 89.16 mph this season, compared to 91.46 mph in 2011, 92.01 mph in 2010 and 92.00 mph in 2009.

But this season’s velocity readings have not been completely accurate for Halladay.

(more…)

Use Pap or Not?

I have received lots of questions about Jonathan Papelbon since yesterday’s 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh.

The Phillies lost two consecutive games on walk-offs, and the Phillies did not use Papelbon either time. Fans want to know why the Phillies didn’t use him. The reason is simple: managers do not like to use their closer in tie games on the road. Charlie Manuel doesn’t. Larry Bowa didn’t. Honestly, if you can find a manager that regularly uses his closer in tie games on the road please let me know. I know that answer isn’t going to be satisfactory for many, but managers want their closer pitching in save situations. Use your closer in a tie game one night then maybe he’s not available the next night when you have a save situation. Think about it that way, too. You can’t pitch the guy every day.

Now, Rich Dubee said he thought about having Papelbon pitch in Saturday’s game, but only because he didn’t want Papelbon warming up several times during the night (think about what happened to Brad Lidge in the 2008 All-Star Game … not good).

“How many times am I going to crank Pap up?” Dubee said.

But why didn’t the Phillies use Papelbon with two outs in the eighth inning yesterday? The Phillies had a one-run lead, so it was a save situation. Papelbon has pitched more than an inning in a save situation 39 times in his career. He has pitched one or fewer innings in a save situation 210 times.

He is 2-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 31 saves (79.5 percent) when he pitches more than an inning.

He is 2-11 with a 2.52 ERA and 189 saves (90 percent) when he pitches one or fewer innings.

“It’s a little early,” Dubee said. “You want me to run him out there 162 games? It’s hard. You’ve got nobody else to close the game. If you had somebody with experience closing the game, if you had (Jose) Contreras, then you might think about doing it.”

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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 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Stutes Scratched

The Phillies scratched right-hander Mike Stutes from his scheduled appearance tomorrow in New York because of a shoulder issue.

Said Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee: “A little inflammation. We don’t think it’s anything major. We’ll give him a little time off. He’s had eight or nine outings down here.”

Said Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock: “It’s nothing serious.”

He said no MRI is scheduled.

Dubee mentioned Stutues’ nine Grapefruit League appearances, implying if Stutes misses a few days he could still be ready for Opening Day next Thursday.

You figure Stutes is penciled in for one of the six spots in the bullpen, if the Phillies have everybody healthy and carry just 11 pitchers into the season. But things get a little crazy if Stutes is unable to open the season and Jose Contreras, who is still throwing in Minor League spring training games, is unable to open the season. Add Antonio Bastardo‘s lack of velocity and the Phillies’ bullpen situation is less settled than they’d like it to be.

“There’s nothing wrong with him,” Proefrock said about Bastardo.

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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.

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.

Willis Struggles, Has Sore Arm

This is not how Dontrelle Willis wanted to open Spring Training with the Phillies.

He allowed three hits, four runs and two walks in just 2/3 inning today in a 10-3 loss to the Astros. He said afterward he has some soreness in his left arm, although he does not believe it is serious.

“My arm just felt fatigued out there today,” said Willis, who has allowed four runs in just 1 2/3 innings in two Grapefruit League appearances. “I need to go out there and battle and make better pitches. But I’ll be all right. I just need a day. I’m really frustrated with my location, but if you’re tired, you’re tired. That’s the bottom line.”

A good spring is important for Willis, who is fighting for a bullpen job. Theoretically, Willis might have an advantage over other pitchers in camp because he is a veteran left-hander, but he does not have a guaranteed contract like Chad Qualls, Jose Contreras or Kyle Kendrick, so the Phillies do not need to give him a chance at the beginning of the season if they do not feel he can help the team.

If Willis makes the team it likely will be as a left-handed specialist. Lefties are 1-for-3 against him this spring, while right-handers are 4-for-7 with three walks.

“We’re going to take the best team possible,” Rich Dubee said. “Again, I don’t see any reason to have a second lefty if he’s not better than the righty before him. If he can’t get anybody out, what kind of look is that? Really. What kind of look is it? The fact of the matter is how servicable are they? That’s what we’re looking for. How do they fit in the mixer of the whole bullpen? I don’t care if he’s lefty or righty, who is the most effective guy?”

Willis said he isn’t concerned, but he knows he needs to do better.

“I was just horse—- today,” Willis said. “You take that for what it is, but you have to be smart about it, too. I’m trying to help the ballclub here and that’s not going to get it done. If I’m tired, then I’m tired. As an athlete, you have to humble yourself that hey, you went out there and tried and now let’s reel you in and get you right.”

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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.

Short Rest? Dubee Isn’t a Fan

Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter lasted just three innings in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

It was his first time pitching on short rest. It showed.

Since the Phillies won their first of five consecutive National League East championships in 2007, Rich Dubee has been asked if he would bring back a pitcher on short rest. He got asked about Cole Hamels in 2007, when the Phillies fell behind the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. He got asked about Cliff Lee in the 2009 World Series and Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLCS.

Asked if there would be any reason to pitch a starter on short rest this postseason, Dubee said, “I don’t think so. I’ve got confidence with every guy we’ve got out there.”

Not that Dubee will never do it, but he’s not a fan of it.

“Most real good players at this level get accustomed to a routine,” Dubee said. “Apparently that was Carpenter’s first whack at it. That’s a strange beast right there. You’re going from your normal side day. Then you’re third day generally you can kick back and relax mentally. The fourth day you get ready to pitch. Now all of a sudden you probably didn’t have a side day and you have shorter rest and shorter preparation time.”

It would not be wrong to say it is as challenging mentally as it is physically.

“I think it turns into a physical thing, but I think it’s more mental to begin with,” Dubee said. “I think all of a sudden, more often than not guys convince themselves they’re not 100 percent, that way they do different stuff.”

Halladay “Absolutely” Will Make Next Start

Roy Halladay once compared himself to a robot on the mound, so I never expected to see him leave a game because of the heat.

But it was brutally hot tonight at Wrigley Field.

Halladay was unavailable to comment after the game, but he told a team spokesman he “absolutely” plans to make his next start Sunday against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park. Here is some of what Rich Dubee said:

  • “You could tell the heat was getting to him a little bit. I talked to him after the fourth and he said he was somewhat lightheaded, but he wanted to go back out there. Of course, he went out there in the fifth and just had a tough time staying focused and seeing the signs. He was dehydrated and he’s doing much better now.”
  • “When he stepped off a couple times I knew something was up because he usually works at such a great tempo.”
  • “He’s doing much, much better.”
  • “I asked him (after the fourth). I said, ‘Can you go on? Do you want to go on?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I want to go back out there.'”
  • “He’s probably the last guy you’d expect something like this, but that’s what Mother Nature can do to you. It was awful hot. I’m not making excuses, but …  guys that go to the All-Star Game – you’ve got have the All-Star Game, I understand that – but guys that go to the All-Star Game, they come back a little drawn. It’s a busy three days. For that first week back, guys generally don’t respond too well. It’s just a hectic schedule. They fly out there, different time zones. You’ve got banquets. You’ve got whatever. And there’s a lot to it. This guy takes tremendous care of himself. He’s doing better now and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

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