Tag Archives: Charlie Manuel

The Phillies Four Aces

It wasn’t inconceivable that at the end of the year, you could rank the Phillies Four Aces in any order.  Sure, Halladay was Mr. Perfect last year and won a Cy Young, but Lee has won a Cy Young too, Cole Hamels was the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP, and Oswalt has been one of the best pitchers in the game over the last decade.

In April, Manuel decided to set up the aces in his rotation as Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels.  Now, with 62 games in the books and 100 to go, if we had to set the rotation in order of their performance this year, here’s how I’d do it.

1 – Halladay (13 starts)

8-3 / 2.56 ERA / 97  Strikeouts / 14 Walks / 98.1 Innings Pitched / 4 Complete Games

2 – Hamels (13 starts)

8-2 / 2.58 ERA /  91 Strikeouts / 18 Walks /  90.2 Innings Pitched / 1 Complete Game

3 – Lee (13 starts)

5-5 / 3.62 ERA / 100 Strikeouts / 20 Walks / 87 Innings Pitched / 1 Complete Game

4 – Oswalt (10 starts)

3-4 / 3.05 ERA / 33 Strikeouts / 14 Walks / 56 Innings Pitched / 0 Complete Games

If the season ended today, and the Phillies only needed three starters in the postseason, Oswalt would be an attractive option in the bullpen.  He could give you innings and a different look coming in after leftys like Hamels, Lee or Bastardo.  He gave up the winning run last year in an NLCS game against San Francisco out of the bullpen, but that was an emergency appearance.  If he is told he’s going to be a reliever, and he prepares that way, he could be quite effective.

But, the season is only 38 percent done.  A lot can still change.  For now, Halladay and Hamels might be each others biggest competition for the 2011 NL Cy Young Award.

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Wilson Valdez, Danys Baez Lead Phillies to 19 inning win

Box Score from MLB.com

Wow.

I’m not sure what else can be said.

Two and one third innings from David Herndon who was told it was his last day on the Major League Roster

Five shutout innings and 73 pitches from the much-maligned Danys Baez.

And then there was Wilson Valdez.  As a second baseman, he was 3-6 with a walk, and he was a part of the great pick-off play to get Brandon Phillips at second.

With the win, the Phillies maintained their one game lead over the Florida Marlins in the NL East.

Then, as a pitcher, he got the reigning National League MVP, Joey Votto, and Mr. Clutch this series, Jay Bruce out in the top of the 19th inning to secure a win for the Phillies.

Charlie Manuel had never used a position player as a pitcher in his managerial career, and he hopes to never do it again.  But, Valdez was good.  His fast ball was in the upper 80s, and he even threw a breaking ball that hit Scott Rolen (another way to win over the remaining, raucous crowd at Citizens Bank Park).

The game ended at 1:19 a.m., and today’s matinee is scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m.  Clearly, Manuel will need a lot of innings from starter Cliff Lee.  He will also have a fresh arm in the bullpen as Jose Contreras is expected to be activated from the disabled list this morning and replace Herndon.

Wilson Valdez, who has enjoyed a lot of support from the Phillies fans over the last two seasons because of his steady play filling in for Chase Utley, is even enjoying some national attention this morning.  He was on the front page of MLB.com, and he is even trending on Twitter.

Wilson Valdez will play today even though Chase Utley will be back in the lineup for his third game in four days.  Utley will be taking far more days off this year than he has throughout his career to ensure that he’s healthy in October.  Valdez will be at third base giving Placido Polanco a day off.

Dane Sardinha will start behind the plate, and Michael Martinez will play shortstop for Jimmy Rollins, who will be out of the lineup after playing all 19 innings last night.

The lineup for the second game in less than 12 hours is:

1 – Martinez (SS)

2- Brown (RF)

3- Utley (2B) — His first start hitting in his normal third spot in the lineup

4- Howard (1B)

5- Ibanez (LF) — Thought he might get the day off due to his age, but he’s been hitting well in May.

6- Mayberry (CF)

7- Valdez (3B) — Not pitching today

8- Sardinha (C)

9- Lee (P) — Need a lot of innings from him today.

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Vance Worley: The Future for The Vanimal

Vance Worley, affectionately referred to as The Vanimal,  will take the mound for the Phillies tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.  He has done a great job filing in for Charlie Manuel in limited opportunities over the last two years, but role with the team is sure to greatly expand in 2012.

If the Phillies have a healthy pitching staff heading into the second half of the year, Worley will be back at AAA Lehigh Valley, but it should be his final pit stop in Allentown before returning to The Show for good.  I have to believe that Vance Worley will be in the starting rotation as of Opening Day next year.

Worley has appeared in 9 games for the Phillies in his career (4 starts) and he has compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.24 ERA.  He is also getting a front-row seat watching Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels pitch almost every night.  That is invaluable experience for a young pitcher trying to break into the Major Leagues.

How will Worley get a shot to be a starter next year?  There are two possibilities.

First, Roy Oswalt has indicated that he may retire at the end of the 2011 season.  It’s not as if Oswalt is old or unproductive, however he refuses to refute that he’s considering an early retirement.  If Oswalt leaves, Worley could step in as a much cheaper alternative.  You would still have Halladay, Lee and Hamels headlining the rotation.

The other scenario, if Oswalt returns, involves trading Joe Blanton.  During the winter, teams looking for a reliable starter would certainly inquire about the Phillies’ oft-forgotten fifth starter.  Blanton is under contract for 2012 for $8 million, and would be a steady pitcher who typically gives his team 200 innings each year.  If Blanton moves on, Worley could step into the back end of the rotation.

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So Taguchi Leads Dramatic Comeback

So Taguchi

Maybe So Taguchi watches Daily News Live.  Yesterday, on the Comcast Sports Net show, there was much said about the much maligned reserve having no business being on the Phillies roster.

Before last night, in the 30 games since the Phillies exploded for 20 runs in St. Louis, So Taguchi had one hit.  Seriously.  He had one hit in 30 games.  Taguchi’s mega-slump is now in the past after playing an unfamiliar role since joining the Phillies – hero.

Now, after last night’s 8-6 win over the Mets in dramatic fashion, Taguchi has one hit in his last one at bat.  The past is gone…forgiven. 

The Phillies, trailing 5-2 in the ninth inning, managed to tie the game with clutch hitting from Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs and Shane Victorino.  Then, Jimy Williams, filling in for the ejected Charlie Manuel who watched the game from the visitor’s clubhouse, put Geoff Jenkins into the game to pinch hit.  The Mets countered with lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano.  Since Jenkins doesn’t hit southpaws well, Williams yanked the announced hitter and went with Taguchi who hit a bases loaded double to right field to give the Phillies a lead they would not surrender.

With first place on the line in New York, the Phillies scored six runs in the ninth inning to take game one of a critical three game series at Shea Stadium.

With the Mets playing well under new interim manager Jerry Manuel and the Phillies struggling to score runs, the Phillies faced the prospect of leaving Queens with a three game deficit in the NL East.  Now, the worst case scenario would leave the Mets with a one game lead over the Phillies at the end of the series.  Most importantly, the Phillies survived facing Johan Santana even if most of their damage came against the bullpen.

Now, the Phillies must rely on a Brett Myers, who has made his last four starts in the minor leagues.  If Myers corrected his mechanics and his mindset, he could be a major lift to the Phillies as they try to make a deep run into October.  Myers will face John Maine tonight before Jamie Moyer and Oliver Perez battle on Thursday afternoon in the series finale.

Lost in the dramatic come from behind win is the first start by Joe Blanton who struggled against a potent Mets’ lineup.  In six innings, Blanton surrendered 5 earned runs on two homers.  He struck out only one while walking three.  Hopefully, it was just first game for a new team jitters for Blanton who is very important to the Phillies’ postseason aspirations.  He will pitch next against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 27.

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