Rotation is Set; Who’s Excited?

A week or so ago, Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News mapped out the Phillies possibilities for the NLDS. Open door #1 and you’ll start the divisional series on Wednesday October 6 with two off days during a five game series. Door #2 gave you a later start, but with less off days in between. The choice was clear.

We now know that Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee, among others, have chosen to go with the early Wednesday start. It’s was really the only call because it allows the Phillies to use Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt throughout the five games without using a fourth starter. Manuel has said all along that his strength is pitching, so he’ll ride with what got him here.

Here is a look at the schedule from here until the postseason. How can that not get you excited? Three pitchers who combined to go 20-7 in 33 starts since Roy Oswalt’s acquisition in July get to pitch over and over and over again.

NLDS

Oct. 6 – Game 1 – Halladay
Oct. 7 – Off
Oct. 8 – Game 2 – Hamels
Oct. 9 – Off
Oct. 10 – Game 3 – Oswalt
Oct. 11 – Game 4 – Halladay (Normal Rest)
Oct. 12 – Off
Oct. 13 – Game 5 – Hamels (Normal Rest)

NLCS

Oct. 16 – Game 1 – Halladay
Oct. 17 – Game 2 – Hamels
Oct. 18 – Off
Oct. 19 – Game 3 – Oswalt
Oct. 20 – Game 4 – Blanton
Oct. 21 – Game 5 – Halladay
Oct. 22 – Off
Oct. 23 – Game 6 – Hamels
Oct. 24 – Game 7 – Oswalt

World Series

Oct. 27 – Game 1 – Halladay
Oct. 28 – Game 2 – Hamels
Oct. 29 – Off
Oct. 30 – Game 3 – Oswalt
Oct. 31 – Game 4 – Blanton
Nov. 1 – Game 5 – Halladay
Nov. 2 – Off
Nov. 3 – Game 6 – Hamels
Nov. 4 – Game 7 – Oswalt

It also appears that we’ve seen the last of the Big 3 in the regular season. Halladay last pitched on Monday in the clincher meaning he’ll get eight days to rest. You have to wonder, and this is not a push of the panic button by any means, but will that throw Halladay off kilter? He’s a creature of habit, perhaps more than any other Phillies player. Will an eight-day layoff hurt him or help him? Just playing devils advocate.

If you watched any baseball last night, you’ll know that the Cincinnati Reds are now in after their division-clinching victory. San Francisco also won to take a two-game lead in the NL West over the Padres. In the race for second place, the Giants are a half game up on wild-card leader Atlanta. Cincinnati is a game back.

So, if the playoffs ended right now, the Reds would be the Phillies first round opponent. During the regular season, the Phils went 5-2 over Cincy, including a four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park in July.

Cincinnati or San Francisco? Who would you rather see? The Reds have a potent offense with a middle-of-the-road rotation. The Giants have great arms at the top – one of the only teams that can rival the Phillies – but lack offense.

UPDATE, 9:25 am: A comment from a Phillies Nation fan on twitter sparked this. If Hamels were to pitch Game 2 of the NLCS, he would be doing so on short rest. If Oswalt were to stay in the Game 3 NLCS slot, He’d be pitching on eight days rest. The solution: flip Hamels to a possible Game 3 start in the NLCS and Oswalt to Game 2. However, that point would be moot should the Phillies wrap up the opening series in less than five games. This layout is simply to say that each pitcher could get a maximum number of starts throughout the postseason.



Division: Clinched. Business: Unfinished.

Carlos Ruiz after the Phillies clinch the 2010 NL East titleI’ve always been awed by the ability of major league ballplayers to keep things in perspective. Consider Roy Halladay. Halladay signed what was then the richest contract in Phillies history in terms of annual salary, replaced a fan favorite, and, like Atlas, lifted the hopes and expectations of a city of 1.6 million on his shoulders. Tonight was his 33rd appearance of the year, and he was perhaps as stunning this evening as at any other point in his six months in red pinstripes (his perfect game in May notwithstanding). 97 pitches, 65 strikes, no walks, two hits, six strikeouts, no runs allowed. Methodical is the word that comes to mind.

Pitch no. 97 was a fading 84-mph split-fingered what-the-hell-was-that?-ball low and on the outside corner to a befuddled 23-year-old Nationals infielder named Danny Espinosa. I was sitting in Mac’s Tavern on Second and Market when that ball hit Carlos Ruiz’s glove. Mac’s is not really a sports bar, and it was only half full, but its patrons celebrated pitch no. 97 with appropriate pomp and circumstance: the Rocky theme was played, strangers were hugged, fists pumped, and high-fives exchanged. This fourth straight division title is an unprecedented occurrence for this team, so we were pretty jazzed. Imagine how Roy Halladay, a veteran of 13 major league seasons with nary a playoff appearance, must have reacted!

Methodically. Halladay, veteran of 13 major league seasons, none of them ending in playoff runs, pumped his fist, walked off the mound, and gave his catcher a peremptory hug. The eight position players on the field, seven of whom has played in a World Series in the past five years, were similarly nonplussed. Jayson Werth, whose two extra base hits and four RBIs paced a Phillies attack that methodically hung eight runs on five Washington pitchers, jogged in from right field to join the party. The ordinarily effervescent Shane Victorino couldn’t be bothered even to do that–he walked.

The fracas on the mound (if you could call it that) seemed staged, a display no one really wanted to bother with and only put on for the benefit of the TV cameras. The Phillies looked, for lack of a better word, bored with the division title. They expect to have another shot at this pitching-mound-orgy-and-champagne-shower business in a couple weeks. Considering recent events, that might be a reasonable expectation.

Here are some photos from tonight’s game courtesy of Brian:



Gameday: Phillies (93-63) at Nationals (67-89)

Philadelphia Phillies (93-63) at Washington Nationals (67-89)

NationalsJohn Lannan, LHP (8-7, 4.58 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (20-10, 2.53 ERA)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Stadium
Weather:
Chance of rain, 66
TV: CSN
Follow Phillies Nation on Twitter

The Phillies 2010 season began in Washington, DC with Roy Halladay squaring off against John Lannan. It could for all intents and purposes come to a close tonight under the same scenario. A Phillies win or a Braves loss will clinch the fourth consecutive division title for the Phillies.

Rain is expected tonight, so there is a chance the game will be postponed or even canceled. For the latest on how the weather will affect tonight’s game, follow Twitter:


After a brief appearance in yesterday’s game, Jimmy Rollins will not be starting.

Today’s lineup: Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Valdez SS, Halladay P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Nugget Nectar
This brew by Troegs (out of the PA capital) is a mix of Red and Amber Ale; and as a result, it pours a vibrant orange color in your glass. The taste hits you right away with piney hops then gradually fades into tropical fruit flavors. It’s a tasty beer worth trying, especially alongside a roasted chicken. – By Brian

GO PHILLIES!



Another extra inning affair.

What next for the Phillies ? 

Much has been made of Ryan Howard’s performance since his return from the disabled list, and now sources are saying there may still be something wrong with the big man preventing him from playing at 100%.

Last night, the first 6 innings were relatively uneventful as the teams played to a 1-1 draw.  The Phillies looked lifeless after being swept by the Astros in a 4 game series that included losses to former Phillies pitchers J A Happ and Brett Myers as well as a 16 inning heartbreaker that saw some offensive players go 0-7.   Happ, two years ago the team’s ace of the future, outlasted Halladay in the third game to really rub it in.  Of course, for the Astros, this series against last years NL champion and 2008 World Series champion was their post season.  At 12 games below 500 and 16 games out with less than a month to go, the Astros are not playoff bound. 

The Phillies probably are, which makes the 4 game sweep so confusing and upsetting.  They have more to play for but seem to be manuevering into position to win the wild card, instead of pushing the Braves to take the National League East for the third year in a row.  At least we aren’t trailing the Mets, that would be TOO much to bear !

Rollins had a good night, going 3-5 with a double, a walk and a run scored.

Ryan Howard did provide a single in the 7th, sandwiched by walks to Utley and Werth, that may have been the catalyst behind the Phillies go ahead score.   If Howard’s single was the catalyst, Raaauuul Ibanez came through with the clutch hit, a one out single to right that scored the run.  Gregerson came in in relief and got Victorino into a double play fielders choice then struck out Ruiz to end the threat.

Oswalt pitched a masterful game, with 6 strikeouts versus five hits allowed through the first 8 innings.  He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the ninth as the Phillies looked to build on that scant one run lead.  The Phillies however went down one, two, three, and Lidge came in for the bottom of the ninth with a one run lead.

He pitched a typically ugly half inning, with a single, sacrifice, groundout, intentional walk, hit batsman, than the piece de resistance, the balk to push the tying score across the plate.

Oswalt can’t win a game, no matter how well he pitches !

Maybe Charlie will consider letting him keep pitching next start if he has the same stuff.

Rollins doubled to lead off the 12th inning. Polanco singled to center to score Jimmy and put the Phillies up  3-2.  The Phillies FINALLY took advantage of an Atlanta loss and picked up a game on the NL East lead.



Trade more than just a rumour now.

It is looking more and more like the Phillies will acquire a new pitcher.

With Victorino, Rollins and Utley on the DL, and Moyer apparently done forever, the Phillies are trying to shore up a roster that looked a lot deeper and stronger at the beginning of the year then it does now.

Roy Oswalt may be the missing piece.   Oswalt has not yet waived his no trade clause but appears very unhappy with his standing as the staff ace for the Houston Astros, who, at  42-59 look to have no chance at the post season for 2010.  Oswalt, a very capable pitcher has seen his numbers drop to match the team, with a 6-12 record and a 3.42 ERA so far this season.

OswaltSince breaking into the big leagues in 2001, Roy Oswalt has 143 victories — 28 more than any other NL pitcher. And his 1,593 strikeouts are the most for any NL pitcher with 100 starts since 2001.  The combination of Oswalt and Halladay would give the Phillies their first authentic 1-2 punch in a generation.

Halladay held similar records in the AL prior to the trade to Philadelphia and despite a lack of run support in all his starts, he still is second in the league in ERA and 3rd in victories, and in both these categories he leads the Phillies.

The Astros, in turn, are looking to acquire Happ and Singleton as well as a prospect to be named later from the Phillies.   While Happ has not yet lived into his potential, Oswalt is a proven commodity.  And Singleton IS a hot prospect for the Phillies at a farm league level, but right now, if the Phillies are going to stay in it for the rest of the year and make a run at the Braves, they need pitching.

Wow.  It seems like every time we evaluate this team, it needs pitching.

Fielding is covered; the hitting; comes and goes, that is the nature of the game.   Pitching, has long been the area in which the Phillies have lacked world championship caliber players.  Consider 2008, their World Series winning season.  They had 4 pitchers with 10 or more victories. 

Moyer led the team with 16, then came Hamels with 14, Kendrick with 11 and Myers with 10.  The team ERA was 3.88 and the lowest ERA by a starting pitcher was Hamels at 3.09.   So when the possibility exists the Phillies may end up with 2 pitchers who can record 20 wins with an ERA in the 2′s, fans can sense the excitement.   If we can win the world series with the above rotation, imagine how much better we can be with a starting group including Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, and Kendrick 

Missing man is Joe Blanton who had several strong years but is posting a 4-6 record with a 5.86 ERA after 16 starts this year.   If we can’t trade back for Lee, I say let Happ go and acquire the veteran that has proven he can fill the staff ace role.  Let the 2 Roys, Halladay and Oswalt fight it out to determine who will be ace #1, and who will be ace #2.



Are the Phillies on their way down?

Well we are almost at the midway point of the baseball season.  The All Star game is next week and the Phillies are in third place and six games back.  What a shocker!  At the beginning of the season there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement.  We were all waiting to see how Roy Halladay would perform.  Personally I want to see the Phillies and Yankee back to the World Series, and this time we win!

Recently though the Phillies have been on a slide.  I’m not really sure when it started .  Maybe  when we lost Jimmy Rollins In the first game of the season.   Maybe it started back when the Red Sox came to town.  The Phillies lost two of three with the Sox shutting out the Phillies in Game two.   But  the slide rapidly intensified  when the Phillies went to NY for a series against the stinky Mets.  There the Phillies were unable to score even one run over three games.

Recently, the Phillies placed Chase Utley and Placido Polanco on DL.  Utley would out for at least 8 weeks.  Do the math and Utley might be back in September.

Through out all of this there is speculation about Jason Werth.  While Werth has proven to be an out standing asset he has had his struggles recently.  There is also the question of his contract at the end of 2010.

So with all this in mind are the phillies on a slide?  If so how big?  Will they make the playoffs this year?  How about next year?  I realize one team can not always be the ones to win, but I sure how this slide does not last until 2020.

Phillies place Utley and Polanco on DL



Vote for Perdro … again?

Will there be another Pedro Martinez sighting in Citizen’s Bank Park?

Well, maybe.

ESPN.com is reporting that the Phillies have been in contact with Pedro in regards to returning to the team in the second half of the season. Pedro was a pleasant surprise for the Phillies last year, rediscovering his fastball and giving the rotation some much needed depth. He was however tagged with two losses to the Yankees in the World Series.

Bellow is a statement in the story for Ruben Amero:

“We have talked to his agent, but there’s nothing so far,” Amaro Jr. said. “We are not negotiating, but we’ve been talking to him. It all depends on whether he wants to play or not.”

It’s hard to blame the Phillies for contacting Pedro considering the struggles of their rotation behind Roy Halladay and to some extent Cole Hamels. With J.A. Happ’s return still in question, Martinez wouldn’t be a horrible acquisition. And while I’m not sure Pedro can be a difference maker at this point in his career, the Phillies currently find themselves in a position where they need to consider all options.

So would you vote for Pedro?



Phillies, Halladay set to face Yankees, Sabathia

There are a ton of storylines following the Phillies as they head into a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

- The Yankees are one of the hottest teams having caught the Rays in the AL East after being as far back as six games a month ago.

- The Phillies bats have gone silent for the better part of three weeks, leaving the team in third place,  3 ½ games behind the Braves.

- Is a series against the defending World Series champions just what the team needs to snap out of its funk?

- Will Chase Utley ever regain his form?

However, my favorite angle comes not in the series, but rather in tonight’s game: C.C. Sabathia vs. Roy Halladay.

It’s rare that one of the best pitchers in the AL goes against one of the best in the NL. If you are a fans of statistics then you have to like the Phillies chances in this one, even with a slumping offense.

Halladay has been masterful — and even perfect — for the Phillies this season, posting a 1.96 ERA to go with his eight wins. Things haven’t gone as well for Sabathia, who has a 4.01 ERA and has pitched 16 less innings than Halladay. Even more eye-catching is the way Halladay dominated New York in his time with Toronto. Although the Blue Jays have never had the talent of the Yankees, that hasn’t stopped Halladay from going 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA against the Bronx Bombers in his career. The two pitchers have met twice with each ace garnering a victory.

I expect a fun and entertaining game tonight, and it’s been quite some time since Phillies fans could put those two words together with their team’s play. This is also a game the Phillies need to win. The pitching matchups will favor New York the rest of the way and Philadelphia needs to make an early statement that  it is finally ready to break free from its struggles.



Halladay Loses Rematch

In what was a rematch of his perfect game, Roy Halladay came out on the losing end Thursday, but mostly due to no offensive support. Philadelphia fell 2-0 against Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins for their third loss in four games. The Phillies seemed to break out of their recent offensive slump, defeating the Marlins 10-8 Tuesday, but the team was only able to record four hits against Johnson last night.

Despite the loss, Halladay looked sharp. The ace set his team up nicely, allowing only one run in 8.0 innings, and striking out eight. Florida scored on a sacrifice fly from Jorge Cantu to take a 1- lead in the top of the 1st, but Halladay would shut them down over the next seven innings hoping that Philadelphia could break through offensively.

Ryan Howard tried to get something going with a double in the bottom of the 1st, but no one was able to drive him home. Another double from Shane Victorino in the 3rd was for not, sending Philadelphia into the 9th down 1-0.

In Halladay’s relief, Danys Baez allowed a homerun to Dan Ugla, putting Florida up 2-0. Another double would come from Placido Polanco, but his last ditch effort in the bottom of the 9th was not enough to get the Phillies on the board, giving the Marlins and Johnson a shuthout.

Up next, Philadelphia will travel to Boston when they take on the Redsox. Jamie Moyer and John Lackey will go head to head at 7:10 PM.



Mr Perfect!!!!!!

On a night where the Flyers were sure to steal the headlines Roy Halladay stole the show.

 Halladay threw a perfect game Saturday night in the Phillies 1-0 win over the Marlins.

 Check back to Phillysportsblogs will have more on this later.

 Congratulations Doc!

 And Go Flyers!



A few too many for The Doc?

Is there such thing as too much of a good thing? When it comes to Roy Halladay’s performance on Tuesday, there is sure to be some debate.

Halladay went the distance in a 2-1 loss to the Pirates, throwing 132 pitches in the process. The pitch count was the highest of any pitcher in the majors this season.

On one side, Halladay is still better on pitch 132 than anyone Charlie Manuel has waiting in the bullpen. On the other, it’s still May and a 50 degree night hardly seems like the ideal time to stretch out the most important part of your rotation.

I have always thought that pitch counts are overrated, but personally I wouldn’t have brought Halladay in to start the 9th. He was pitching to keep the Phillies’ deficit at one, rather than to protect a lead. If the Phillies were winning 2-1, I would be much more supportive of the move.

But I’m not managing in the big leagues. Manuel has said in the past that there isn’t much difference in one of his guys throwing 105 pitches and 120, so I guess he doesn’t view 132 as much higher than, say, 110.

I’m sure Manuel was banking on the fact that Halladay has proven to be one of the most durable pitchers in the game. That hasn’t changed as he has aged so there is no reason to start thinking it will now. Of coarse if Doc leaves his next start early with elbow stiffness the media will be all over Manuel’s decision.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.



Philly Offense Wins Battle of Pennsylvania

Kyle Kendrick took the mound Monday in Philadelphia’s match up with the Pittsburgh Pirates, looking for his second win of the season. The right hander went 8.0 innings (105 pitches) allowing only two runs, striking out four, and leading the Phillies to a 12-2 victory. The win moved Philadelphia to 24-13 on the season. Read more



Halladay’s Efforts Fall Short

In the first game of a double header Wednesday, Roy Halladay returned home to face his old team in Colorado. The Philadelphia ace went 6.1 innings allowing only two earned runs, but his efforts were for not as the Phillies fell 4-3. Read more



Phillies Rally Against the Giants

Despite a slow start in their series against the Giants this week, the Philadelphia Phillies would not fall easily, fighting to earn a win. In what was expected to be an exciting series between two of the National League’s best, the Phillies seemed to be overwhelmed with San Francisco in their first two games. The Phillies struggled on both side of the ball as they tallied only three runs, while they allowed San Francisco 11 runs in games 1 and 2. Read more



Halladay vs. Santana on Sunday?

There could be some real drama at Citizens Bank Park in Philadephia this weekend.

The Phillies and Mets will renew their rivalry with a three-game series beginning Friday. While Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox at 3:30 the real excitement could come on Sunday Night baseball on ESPN.

The way things look we could be in store for a Roy Halladay-Johan Santana showcase.

Halladay pitched on Monday and Sunday’s game would be his next turn to pitch. He could also pitch on Saturday on regular rest if Charlie Manuel decides to skip someone in the rotation. The Phillies have an off day on Thursday, so Manuel will have a choice.

Meanwhile Santana is pitching today and will be on regular rest for Sunday. The Mets also have off on Thursday so Jerry Manuel will too have a choice. He could go with Johan on Sunday on normal rest and skip the No. 5 starter or select to give him an extra day. In that case the Phillies would miss Santana entirely.

So we may have a marquee matchup or we may not. While I’m sure the Phillies would not complain about missing Santana I think both fan bases would love to get their first taste of Doc vs. Santana.