The words of Cliff Lee after pitching 10 scoreless innings lasts night. He was pulled in the 11th inning when Antonio Bastardo came in and gave up an unearned run as the Giants beat the Phillies 1-0. The Phillies couldn’t manage to get one run in eleven innings. Sound familiar? A 1-0 loss… something about October, the Cardinals… you know where I am going here. It is the second time in a week the Phillies have been shut out in a game. In their 5-0 loss to the Mets last week, the Phillies got six hits. Last night, only four Phillies got hits. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino’s batting averages both dipped below .300 after they both went 0 for 4.
It seems that every time the Phillies pitchers turn in a gem of a performance, the lineup hocks up a slimy one and spits right in their face. But hey, that’s baseball. Can we chalk it up to the fact that Utley and Howard are off the grid? Maybe. The Phillies have found ways to win this season without them. Perhaps we could say they just play terribly at ATT Park, where their record is now 18-27.
On the opposite end, the Phillies will begin a four game series at Petco Park in San Diego tonight where they are 22-4. The Phillies have pretty much owned that park, sweeping a series there last season. Can this trend continue? If there was ever a time to play a series at Petco Park, now is the time. Having “Continued Success” there would certainly lift them out of the funk they are in and help carry some momentum into Arizona. Vance Worley goes tonight. It will be his first outing ever against San Diego.
One thing I am convinced of: The era of “Pitching, Pitching, Pitching” is over. I never want to hear that phrase again.
Speaking of pitchers: Jamie Moyer. Nuff said. When he hangs up his glove, I would hope the Phillies at least have him in for a “Jamie Moyer Appreciation Night”. He doesn’t have to do the one day minor league retire as a Phillie deal like Pat Burrell is doing, but I would hope he comes back to throw out a first pitch. Charlie Manuel is on record as saying, “He better not pitch against us and beat us. Then I’m really going to be mad.” The Phillies host the Rockies for a three game series in June. Should Jamie Moyer pitch that week, there’s a good chance Charlie will be mad. Mad at who I wonder? His hitters for not hitting him or Ruben Amaro Jr. for not re signing him?
This year, the Phillies pretty much have their rotation set. In past years there were 5th started controversies or competitions but not so much this year. After Halladay, Hamels, and Lee, Vance Worley looks build on his successful 2011 year and Joe Blanton is hoping to come back from arm problems which kept his stats on the lower end for much of last year. So one through five are set. However, we know we are going to need six and seven.
Six and seven?
Yes, six and seven. The pitchers on the depth chart who will have to inevitably fill in for the two pitchers who will be taken out of the rotation due to injury or ineffectiveness (AKA stinking up the place). This is bound to happen. You might want to even use the dreaded “C Word” that Philadelphia fans hate to bring up. That word being curse. Is this rotation cursed? Let’s recap the several seasons and who suffered from time off the mound.
2007 Opening Day Rotation: Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jon Lieber, Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia
Casualty 1: Jon Lieber. Lieber didn’t make his first start until the Phillies 15th game of the season. After three starts and two relief appearances, his ERA was 2.57 with a 1-0 record. After his 12th start on June 20th, he was put on the DL with an ankle injury that would cause him to miss the rest of the season.
Replacement: Kyle Lohse. Lohse was traded from the Reds and went 3-0 with a 4/72 ERA in 11 starts.
Casualty 2: Freddy Garcia. In 11 starts, Garcia only earned one win, took five losses and posted a 5.90 ERA. This came to be known as “The ten million dollar win” since Garcia was on a one year, ten million dollar deal. His fall soon led to the rise of…
Replacement: Kyle Kendrick. After being called up on June 13, he went 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA. He did a good job of eating innings and keeping the team in the game but never really dazzled. His 07 performance secured a spot in the rotation in the 2007 postseason as well as the following season. More on him later.
2008 Opening Day Rotation: Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Adam Eaton, Kyle Kendrick
Casualty 1: Brett Myers. Myers had a poor start to his season, going 2-2 in April with a 5.11 ERA. At the end of June he accepted an assignment to the minor league teams to get his pitching back on track. He his record before being sent down was 3-9 and gave up four runs or more in his last four starts in June. He returned in July to close out the year with an additional 7 wins and 4 losses and maintain an 3.06 ERA in 13 starts. The Phillies took advantage of the All Star Break, days off, and spot starts from JA Happ to work around Myers Minor League adventure.
Casualty 2: Adam Eaton. Eaton did not record his first win in 2008 until his 11th start on May 28. In July he was moved to the bullpen, and then sent down to the minors, leaving with a 4-8 record. The last image Phillies fans have of him is when he waved to the fans as he picked up his World Series ring.
Replacement: Joe Blanton. Blanton came to the Phillies from Oakland in exchange for three prospects. He took the role of the innings eater. In his 13 starts with the Phillies over two months, the team went 9-4 while Blanton only got decisions in four of those games, receiving the W each time.
2009 Opening Day Rotation: Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Joe Blanton, Chan Ho Park
Casualty 1: Chan Ho Park. After a drama filled spring training played out on TV, Chan Ho Park won the fifth starter job, beating out JA Happ and Kendrick. But after 7 starts in which he landed a 7.29 ERA, he was sent to the bullpen where he seemed to nicely fill the role of long man. These days he is playing for the Hanwha Eagles of Korea Baseball Organization and remains the Asian player with the most wins in MLB.
Replacement: J.A. Happ. If you watched “The Pen” on MLB Network, you got to see the drama for the 5th starter position play out. Cameras were there as Happ was told he would not be starting, but would still be on the team as bullpen long man. When Chan Ho was given the hook, he and Happ traded places. In Happ’s 23 starts, he went 10-4 with a 2.99 ERA. You’d think that would be good right? Good enough? Good enough to start in the postseason? Keep reading.
Casualty 2: Jamie Moyer. Moyer had a pretty rocky season. In his four starts in April, the Phillies went 3-1 but he gave up 4 runs in three of those starts and never went past six innings. By the end of June, his ERA was above six and he had a even 6-6 record. There were quite a few games where he gave up six runs or more and the Phillies did not take to this at all. He was sent to the bullpen in August following a grumble session with the media. He did manage to pitch well in some relief appearances following rain delays which were started by his replacement…
Replacement: Pedro Martinez. Nobody have Pedro a contract after the 2008 offseason and he showcased what he had in the 2009 World Baseball Classic playing for the Dominican Republic. Phillies scouts checked him out in July and he was signed to a one million dollar deal for the season, the definition of low risk high reward. In his return to New York on August 23, Martinez’s win against the Mets was preserved by a rare unassisted triple play by second baseman Eric Bruntlett in the bottom of the ninth inning. With his win on September 3—his third as a Phillie and his 100th as a National Leaguer—Martinez became the 10th pitcher in history to win at least 100 games in each league. The Phillies made it to the World Series in a much hyped return to Yankee Stadium. He pitched well enough in Game 2, leaving the game with the Phils trailing 2-1 but in Game 6 allowed four runs in four innings, leaving some to wonder if JA Happ should have gotten a spot in the rotation. He officially retired this past December.
2010 Opening Day Rotation: Hamels, Moyer, Blanton, Roy Halladay, J.A. Happ
Casualty 1: Joe Blanton. Blanton suffered an oblique injury before opening day and was placed on the DL until he was ready to come back in May.
Casualty 2: J.A. Happ. Happ began experiencing elbow problems after starting two games. He made rehab appearances, one more start for the Phillies on July 25 where he gave up three runs in five innings, then was traded to the Astros for this guy…
Replacement: Roy Oswalt: Happ was traded for Oswalt in the semi annual Astros fleecing. He lost his first start after being whisked out from Houston, but in his next 11 starts, went 7-0.
Casualty 3: Jamie Moyer. The honored elder pretty much repeated his performance of the previous year but the Phillies were locked into waiting it out with him until he suffered a a sprain in his ulnar collateral ligament and a strain of his flexor pronator, which resulted in Moyer missing the remainder of the 2010 season.
Replacement Infinity: Kyle Kendrick. He initially was given a bullpen spot on the team, then was part of the opening day rotation, first filling in for Joe Blanton, then Happ. He was sent down to AAA for a day, only to be called up again when Moyer went down.
2011 Opening Day Rotation: Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt
Casualty 1: Roy Oswalt. Little Roy started out strong in his first starts in April, but on April 27 in Arizona, was pulled after three innings and then took a leave of absence from the team, citing “personal reasons,” namely to check on his family and home after a series of devastating tornadoes in Mississippi. He later returned to Philadelphia but his back problems forced the Phillies to place him on the DL. He returned to the team on May 17th but went 1-5 in his next 8 starts (even through in three of those starts he was the victim of the other Phillies curse, poor run support). Oswalt went on the DL for about six weeks over the summer with an ailing back. It was said this was aggravated by his use of an excavator assisting with tornado relief efforts.
Replacement: Kyle Kendrick. He’s up, he’s down, he’s all around. He starts, he relieves, he gets into bets with Cliff Lee. He does it all.
Casualty 2: Joe Blanton. Problems with his elbow put Blanton on the 15 day DL in late April. He made two starts but eventually was returned to the DL, and did not return to the active roster until mid September. This leads us to…
Replacement: Vance Worley, AKA VANIMAL. Worley made a few starts after Blanton went down and pitched well. But he was sent down to AAA when Oswalt came back from the disabled list. He was brought back up again when Blanton returned to the DL. He was sent back down again to bring up Mike Zagurksi, only to come back to the Phillies in mid June to return to the rotation. Most believed this yo yo system of call ups and bullpen trips messed with him a bit, but overall he had a great season with an 11-3 record and a 3.01 ERA for the season.
So now here we are in 2012. Predictions for who might go down? Glad you asked.
Predicted casualty 1: Cliff Lee. Currently experiencing abdominal issues and there is a chance that Game 2 NLDS performance affected him during the offseason.
Predicted casualty 2: Cole Hamels. Only because the fates are cruel. Cole has it all, talent, good looks, hot wife, kids, friends. I think we are going to pay for this easy going winter we had with a Hamels injury of some kind. Throw in the fact this is his contact year and it would be just the cruel twist of fate you only see in tragic movies.
As for replacements? Kendrick just signed for 2 years and Joel Piniero is on a minor league deal with “Just in Case” stitched on the back of his uniform. Don’t get me started on Roy Oswalt, that’s a whole nother mess I’d rather not bring up.