During the off-season, after the Phils had picked up Cliff Lee via free agency, everyone in the country were talking about the Phils four aces (Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels), while also thinking that the Phils would likely trade away Joe Blanton (they didn’t), although the other four would come out to support the fifth member of the starting rotation during spring training, but the pleasant surprise during the first nine games of the season has been the performance of the bullpen, who have been rather stingy with both the hits and the runs.
Roy Halladay, the staff ace, have had two good starts, having a record of 1-0, as he has gone 13 innings, giving up only one earned run on eleven hits and one walk, while he has struck out 13, for an ERA of 0.69 and a WHIP of 0.92.
Cliff Lee, the present no. two man, has also pitched two games, a spectacular start against the Astros, and a start against the Braves where he lost his control. His record is now 1-1, as he has pitched ten and a third innings, giving up nine earned runs on fourteen hits and a walk, while he has also hit two batters, as he has struck out fourteen, for the team lead, for an ERA of 7.84 and a WHIP of 1.45.
Roy Oswalt, the no. three man, have had two good outings for a 2-0 record, making him the present team leader in wins. He has pitched twelve innings, giving up four runs, of which three were earned, on ten hits and three walks, while also hitting a batter, while he has struck out eight, for a 2.25 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.08.
The team’s no. four starter, Cole Hamels, in his two start, had a bad start against the Mets, before bouncing back against the Braves this past Sunday. His record is now 1-1, as he has gone nine and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs on eleven hits and three walks, and one hit batter, while he had struck out eleven, for a 5.59 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
Joe Blanton, the team’s fifth starter, will be making his second start of the season tonight, after having been taken out of his opening start, as he allowed his pitches to come up against the Mets in the fifth inning. His record is 0-0, as he looks for his first win or lost, as he had so far gone four and one-thirds innings, giving up seven runs on ten hits and two walks, while hitting a batter, while he has struck out six, for a high ERA of 14.54 and a WHIP of 2.77, both presently highs among the starters. He hopes to bring both down during his start against the Nationals.
So far, the five starters have a combine record of 5-2, as they have pitched 49.1 innings, giving up 27 runs, of which 26 were earned, on 56 hits and 10 walks, while hitting a total of 5 batters, while striking out 52 batters. They have also given up all three of the home runs allowed by the Phils’ pitchers (Oswalt, Lee and Blanton with one each).
Meantime, the bullpen has shown itself to be better than expected, as they have allowed only six runs, only five of which were earned, and one inherited runner to score, in their combine total of 30.2 innings.
Their long man, Kyle Kendrick, has appeared in three games, with a 0-0 record, as he has given up a run on four hits and three walks, while striking out a batter in five innings of work, for a 1.80 ERA.
Antonio Bastardo has been on fire as he has appeared in three games, with a 1-0 record, as he has so far given up no runs in four and two-thirds innings, giving up only two hits, while striking out nine batters, for an ERA of 0.00.
The Phils’ other lefty in their bullpen, J.C. Romero, appeared to have regain his 2008 form as he has pitched in five games, for an 0-0 record, as he has given up a run on three hits and a walk in four innings, while he has strucked out three, for a 2.25 ERA.
After having a bad year in 2010, Danys Baez seems to have recovered nicely this year, as he has appeared in five games, for a record of 1-0, as he has given up an unearned run on six hits and a walk, as he pitched a total of five innings, while striking out two, for an 0.00 ERA.
Second year man David Herndon is the only reliever who doesn’t seem to be pitching well in the early going, as he has pitched in five games, for an 0-0 record, going six innings, as he has given up three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out a batter, for a 4.50 ERA.
The Phils’ eighth inning pitcher, Ryan Madson, is doing well, as he had an 0-0 record, as he has pitched in three games for a total of three innings, giving up no runs on a hit, while he has struck out four, for an 0.00 ERA.
Their present closer, Jose Contreras. has been lights out, as he has appeared in three game, for an 0-0 record while converting both of his save opportunities, as he has gone three innings, giving up no runs on two hits and a walk, while he has struck out four, for an 0.00 ERA.
The bullpen has appeared in all nine games, for an 2-0 record, as they have given up a total of 23 hits and 8 walks, while striking out 24 batters. The good work of the bullpen help give the Phils a team ERA of 3.49 while the team’s WHIP is at 1.21. If this continues, especially once the starters have hit their stride, this could become a very dangerous team, even if the offense has its mid-season slump, as the pitching should keep them within striking distant during most games.
Since the last time I’d written something here, the Phils have come to terms with both Ben Francisco (January 15) for one year for $1.175 million dollars with performance bonuses and with Kyle Kendrick (January 18) for $2.45 million, also for one year, to avoid arbitration with both players, thus having all of their players signed up for at least one season. Last season, 2010, in 88 games (28 of which were starts), Francisco batted .268 (48 for 179), as he hit thirteen doubles and six home runs and knocked in 28 RBIs. He also went .282 pinch hitting (11-39), hitting three doubles and knocking in 7 RBIs. This season, Francisco will be used in a platoon with Dom Brown in right field to replace Jayson Werth, who had during the off-season signed a long term contract with the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, Kendrick last season pitched in 33 games (a career-high), 31 of which were starts, as he went 11-10 with an ERA of 4.73, as he pitched in 180.2 innings and struck out 84 batters (both career highs) while walking 49, who, depending on what the team might do, will either be their long man coming out of the bullpen, or fighting for the fifth starter spot with Vance Worley.
As the Phils prepare for the start of spring training next month in Clearwater, Florida, they are looking at their options, thanks to their present embarrassment of riches with their starting pitching staff, which at the moment consists of Roy Halladay (Ace), Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt (who at the moment are being nicknamed either the Four Aces, R2C2 or the Fantastic Four by the fans) and Joe Blanton, as they decide whether they really need to trade Kentucky Joe to another team that needs a good starter to help give them some salary flexibility, or to just keep Joe, and use him as their fifth starter, knowing that he so far have had a good track record pitching for the Phils during the two plus seasons since they’d gotten him from the Oakland A’s to help them down the stretch towards their 2008 World Series Championship. My opinion is that they should hang onto Blanton, unless he brings in a good righthanded bat that’ll help the team in the line-up. Either way, he would be helping the team, especially as the fifth starter, since he is presently seen as a good third or fourth starter on most teams.
Lastly, Charlie Manuel’s contract is coming up this season. Although it is more than likely that the Phils will give him an extension, Charlie had announced on WIP radio yesterday, when asked about it, that he would like a three year contract, and prefer that he signed the contract extension as soon as possible so that it won’t become a distraction for the ballclub during the season, although he does see himself as signing a contract at some point this season. Me, sign him up as soon as possible Ruben. Uncle Chuck seems to know what he’s doing with the players, and we all know that they like playing for him.
The Phils have announced that they have made a one-year deal, pending his passing a physical, with J.C. Romero, for an undisclosed amount of cash.
J.C. Romero, whom the Phils had let go earlier in the off-season, had spent the last three plus seasons (2007-10) with the Phils, going 6-6 with 4 saves and a 2.60 ERA, as he appeared in 213 games, pitching in 148.2 innings, giving up 99 hits and 46 runs, 41 of which were earned, and walking 105 batters, while striking out 123. Last year, in 60 games pitched, he recorded a 1-0 record with 3 saves and a 3.68 ERA, as he pitched 36.2 innings, giving up 30 hits and 17 runs, 15 of which were earned, as he walked 29 batters, while striking out 28.
If he passes the physical, its obvious that the Phils will once again use him as their situational lefty out of the bullpen, hoping that he’ll bounce back from his injuries in 2009-10. I just hope the Phils know what they’re doing.
In a move that came completely out of the blue, the Phils have just signed free agent Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract, with a vesting option for a sixth year, beating the New York Yankees, who had offered Lee a six-year deal worth $135 million, with a vesting option for a seventh year, and the Texas Rangers, who had offered him a six-year deal worth $138 million, and with a vesting option for a seventh season. With this move, Lee returns to Philadelphia, after having been traded by the Phils to the Seattle Mariners, almost a year ago, giving the Phils a starting rotation that now have four aces (Lee, NL Cy Young Award Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels), that will be haunting the NL, especially the NL East, for at least a year (depending on whether Hamels will be resigned after the season, and if Oswalt decides not to retire after 2012.).
Lee, in 2010, as he pitched for first the Mariners, then the Rangers, went 12-9 with an ERA of 3.18, as he started in 28 games, pitching 212.1 innings, throwing seven complete games, including a shut out, as he struck out 185 batters, while walking only eighteen during the season. In the post-season, he helped pitched the Rangers into their first World Series appearance, before falling to the 2010 World Champions San Francisco Giants, as he went 3-2 overall for the Rangers.
The Phils will more than likely have to trade someone(s) to help them better afford their move. There is already rumors flying around that they have been trying to ship off Joe Blanton and or Raul Ibanez as a salary dump, with them willing to pay for part of Blanton’s salary to move him. I do not know if any of them is true, but, if they need to move someone, it should be Kyle Kendrick, not Blanton. After all, Blanton has been a bit more consistant, pitching wise, than has Kendrick, and he would be a lot better backup to the now Big Four than might Kendrick. Whatever does happen, I hope Ruben will know what he’s doing, although there does seem to be some method to his madness.
The BBWAA have just announced that Roy Halladay was voted the National League Cy Young Award, becoming the fifth pitcher to win the award as a pitcher in both league, as he had won the award in 2003 while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, joining Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.
Roy received all 32 first-place votes for a total of 224 points, beating out Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals, who had received 28 second-place votes, for a total of 122 votes, and Ubaldo Jiminez, who ended third with 90 votes, including 4 second-place votes.
Roy won the votes by going 21-10 as he pitched in 33 games, all starts, as he finished first, second or third in several categories, including finishing first with the most wins in the NL (21), most complete games (9), shutouts (4) and innings pitched (250 2/3), while he finished second in strikeouts (219), behind Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants, and third in ERA (2.44), behind Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins and Wainwright. He also pitched the 20th perfect game in MLB History as he threw a no-no against the Marlins on May 29, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, as he pitched the Phils to a 1-0 win.
Halladay became the fourth Phil to win the award, following four-time winner Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (1972, 1977, 1980, 1982), John Denny (1983), and Steve Bedrosian (1987).
Congratulations, Doc. You deserve this win.
With twenty-one games left in the season, and with a one game lead over the Braves in the East, and at the moment owning the best record in the National League. the Phils start their next to last road trip of the season with a three-game visit with the Mets at Citi Field, with the first game of the series starting tonight at 7:10 pm Eastern time. The Phils are at the moment 6-6 with the Mets in their eighteen game season series, but they have won four of their last six games against their Eastern Division rival.
In the series opener, the Phils (81-60, 1st) will send to the mound their ace and NL Cy Young Award candidate Roy Halladay (17-10, 2.36), who is coming off a win against the Brewers on September 5, as he pitched seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out six, in the Phils’ 5-4 win. In his last three starts, his record is 1-2, as he has pitched twenty-one innings, giving up ten runs on twenty-three hits and three walks, while he has struck out sixteen. Against the Mets this year, his record is 3-0, as he has pitched twenty-four innings, including a complete game, giving up only five runs on sixteen hits and just two walks, while striking out twenty-three. He will be going for his fourth win against the Mets and his eighteen win overall, while hoping that the bats will continue to give him some runs support. The Mets (69-71, 4th) will counter with Jenrry Mejia (0-3, 3.86), who is coming off a lost against the Cubs on September 4, as he pitched just five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out only two, in the Mets’ 5-3 lost. In his last three appearances on the mound, his record is 0-1, as he pitched six innings plus two batters, as he gave up five runs on eight hits and four walks, while striking out three. He will be trying to pitch a good game against Doc, while hoping that the Mets will finally be able to defeat him in 2010. The Phils will be trying to start off the road trip on a good note, while hoping to increase their lead over the Braves, as they continue their four-games series with the Cardinals.
Tonight the Phils (41-35, 3rd NL East) will begin a four-game series with the worst team in the National League, the Pirates (27-51, 6th NL Central). Tonight’s game will be played at PNC Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phils, who ended June with a 13-13 record, and are coming off a losing series with the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati (1-2), will be trying to feast on the Bucos’ pitching, in spite of having a few of their major players on the disabled list, especially Chase Utley, who will sometime today have his broken right thumb operated on, and will be out for the next four to six weeks, at least according to the rumor mill. (Whether he actually will have an operation we will all know by the end of the day). The Phils’ starter will be Cole Hamels (6-6, 4.08), who is coming off a lost against the Twins on June 26, where he went only four innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out three, in the Phils’ 5-1 lost. All of the Blue Jays’ runs came off of three home runs, two two-run shots and a solo home run. In his last three starts, Hamels is 1-1 with a no-decision, having given up ten runs, nine of which were earned, on seventeen hits and seven walks, while striking out eighteen. Against the Pirates, Hamels is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA. The Pirates, meanwhile, who had ended June with a record of six wins and twenty loses, and are coming off a winning series against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago (2-1), will be trying to see if they can win their second straight series. The Pirates will send to the mound Daniel McCutchen (0-3, 11.00), who is coming off a lost against the A’s on June 26, as he pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks, while he struck out two, in the Pirates’ 5-0 lost. In his last three games, two starts and a relief appearance, his record is 0-2, as he has given up ten runs on sixteen hits and three walks, while striking out four. This will be the first time that he has faced the Phils, who have a tendency to not hit well against pitchers who they are seeing for the first time.
The Phils will be trying to continue their recent offense revival against the Pirates, hoping to win at least three of the four games, while hoping that the recent loses of such high-caliber starters as Chase Utley and Placido Polanco will not be detrimental to the ball club, as they try to stay close to both the Braves and the Mets before the former come to Philadelphia for three games, starting on the fifth.
The Phils are presently three and a half games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves, who are off today, before they start a three-game weekend series with the fourth place Florida Marlins in Atlanta. There are two games back of the second-place New York Mets, who will be starting a four-game series of their own with the last-place Washington Nationals in the Nation’s Capitol. They are presently five games ahead of the Marlins, who are off today before the face they Braves for three-games in Atlanta. They are eight and a half games ahead of the Nationals, who will start a four-game set against the Mets tonight in Washington, D.C. They hope to win tonight to gain half of game against both the Braves, and the Mets, and adding a half game against the Marlins, while hoping that the Nats will be able to handle the Mets tonight.