Don’t look now, but the Phillies have shown that they can at least be a shell of the team that they were projected to be at the beginning of the season.
In the last three games that is.
In those games (two of them in particular), the Phillies finally got the superior pitching from the top half of their starting rotation with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels that they have been lacking the first 3 1/2 months. Don’t get me wrong, they haven’t pitched bad, and they also haven’t gotten much help in the form of run support, but as their records have indicated (10-8 for Halladay, 7-7 for Hamels), the season so far has not gone as anticipated for two pitchers who are as highly regarded around baseball circles as they both are.
Especially for Doc.
However, for argubly the first time all season, Philadelphia fans saw Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay literally carry the Phillies to two consecutive wins when they needed it the most.
Mired in three-game losing streak and in a 2-6 stretch of poor baseball, 17 combined scoreless innings from Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay brought back this Phillies team from the verge of baseball death. Although Hamels got a no-decision in his outing as the Phillies had to go to extra innings against the Cardinals to pull out the victory, to see the southpaw show signs of his 2008 form was a unbelievable sign. All things considered, with the back end of the rotation being so in-flux due an injury to Jamie Moyer, the inconsistent production from Kyle Kendrick, and the questionable status of J.A Happ, a surging Hamels along with getting the per-usual production from Halladay may deter the Phillies front office from the desperation move of depleting an already depleted farm system by dumping off more young prospects for pitching help (Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt) at the trade deadline that is just a week away.
In addition to the performances of Hamels and Halladay, the Phillies bats may have gotten the reality check they needed in the past couple of days after long-time hitting coach Milt Thompson was fired after Thursday’s game against the Cardinals. In the two games since the departure of Thompson and the return of hitting coach Greg Gross, by scoring six and ten runs respectively, the offense has finally reverted back to their 2008 and 2009 form!
Well, not quite.
However, they are starting to do things offensively that draw similarities to their prolific offensive displays of the past. Especially in the two years the Philles have gone to the World Series, the factor that has separated them from the other teams in the NL is their ability to break out at any time and take control of the game. In other words, their ability to put up a crooked number (5, 6, 7 runs in an inning) in the box score has allowed them to come back into games and put away others in a way that few other team have the ability and talent on the roster to do.
In the last two games, the Phillies ability to accomplish just that (especially sending Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez to his second loss of the season by scoring seven runs in the third inning) is just one example of how you cannot count this team out, no matter how bad they look during some stretches, whether they make a deal to get a pitcher or to trade Jayson Werth or not, until the final game of the regular season.
By my count, that is still 65 games away.
If I remember correctly, the Phillies only needed 17 games in 2007.
Other News, Notes, and Thoughts..
: Phillies have to make a move for J.A Happ to start on Sunday. The guy sent down is likely going to be Vance Worley, who pitched a scoreless inning in his big league debut on Saturday. Unfortunate.
: Even with the Cardinals the favorites to get Roy Oswalt and the Yankees the leaders to obtain Dan Haren, the Phillies are still in the running for the services of either pitcher. In fact, the Phillies have sent out scouts to their recent starts, and the Astros have even sent scouts to recent Phillies games. However, one pitcher you can count out for the Phillies is Oakland’s Ben Sheets, who will reportedly go on the DL with a strained elbow.
: Even with a 7 IP, 1 ER start by Kyle Kendrick for his sixth win of the season, I still feel that the Phillies need to go out there and explore pitching help. Ruben Amaro can state all he wants that the Phillies are still “buyers”, but if he stands pat with a back-end of the rotation of Kendrick and a questionable J.A Happ, people may take issue with that. In the case of Kendrick, the organization has shown that they do not have confidence in him to get out big-league hitters, proved by the fact that they optioned him for Triple-A. Amaro keeping him in he rotation will only prove that he has conceded to the fact that they have no better option, a decision that will certainly allow the skeptics to question his credibility. With that said, I’m not as critical on Kendrick as most are. He’s never going to be a dominant MLB pitcher, and he has the tendency to fall victim of the big inning or even the big game, but he’s the fifth starter for crying out loud. To expect much better than a 6-4 record out of a guy in his position is unrealistic.
: SHOULD THE PHILLIES TRADE JAYSON WERTH BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE? I have gone back and forth on this million dollar question hundreds of times throughout the season, but the final conclusion is YES. Werth is in the prime of his career, and his a borderline all-star when he is right physically and mentally, but with the stagnant trade market for Raul Ibanez and the anticipation for the debut of Domonic Brown, this may be the only time where you can get appropriate value (and not dealing him, letting him walk in the off-season, and get two draft picks from the team that signs him is NOT enough) for Werth. Yes, dealing Werth and supplanting Brown in his place may cause the Phillies to be too left-handed dominant at the plate, but there are options to limit that, an example being a regular platoon.
EX: Trade Werth, Brown starts in RF vs. RHP, Francisco in RF against LHP, Brown spares Ibanez against LHP in LF at times in an effort to get regular at-bats.
Done, done, and done.