Tag Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

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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Phillies on a Mission From God?

1 – Rollins (SS)

2 – Polanco (3B)

3 – Utley (2B)

4 – Howard (1B)

5 – Ibanez (LF)

6 – Victorino (CF)

7 – Brown (RF)

8 – Ruiz (C)

9 – Hamels (P)

 

Enough Said.

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Ryan Howard: Gold Glover?

Over the last five seasons, Ryan Howard has averaged 149 starts each season at first base.  They haven’t all been pretty.  From booting grounders to throws into left field, Howard has struggled with his defense over the course of his career.

After 19 errors in 2008, he arrived at spring training early in 2009 to work with then third base coach Sam Perlozzo on his defense.  Although he improved in 2009 and 2010, he has taken a giant leap forward this season.

From 2006 to 2010, Howard has averaged 14.6 errors per season (about one error per 10 starts).  This year, through 54 games, Howard has not made a single error.

Adrian Gonzalez and Adam LaRoche (who have only made double-digit errors once in their careers) and Joey Votto are the only other everyday first basemen with at least 40 starts this year to remain without an error.

The season is now one-third over, but at this point in the season, Howard would be among the contenders to capture the National League Gold Glove at first base.

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Phillies Interested in Heath Bell

It started as a major question mark.  The outlook was worse in spring training.  Yet, through Memorial Day, the Phillies bullpen has been great.

After Brad Lidge got hurt in spring training, the Phillies used Jose Contreras (maybe a bit too much).  Despite an injury, he has a 0.00 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched.  He has only allowed four hits, and he’s 5-5 in save opportunities.

When The Big Truck went down, the Phillies relied on free-agent-to-be Ryan Madson.  Now, he’s having a career year.  Madson is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA, and he’s 12-12 in save opportunities.

Brad Lidge has begun his rehab assignments in Florida and is expected back by the end of June.

The Phillies have also benefited from a youth movement in the pen.  The young guns of the bullpen, Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes have stepped into key late-inning roles.  In 21 appearances, Bastardo is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched.  The rookie, Stutes, has a 2.53 ERA in 14 appearances and is averaging more than one strikeout per inning.

With four aces in the starting rotation, the Phillies bullpen is the least used in the National League, which will help to keep it fresh heading into October.

Even with fresh, productive arms, the San Diego Union Tribune is reporting the Phillies are interested in their All-Star closer, Heath Bell.  The news on Bell is toward the end of the story.

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Be Patriotic on Memorial Day in Washington DC

If you aren’t heading Down the Shore this weekend for Memorial Day, you might want to consider taking a day trip to Washington to see the Phillies take on the Nats in the first game of their three-game series.

Do you really need incentive to go to a Phillies game?  Of course not, but here is some anyway.

Monday’s 1:05 p.m. game will feature Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay pitching, it’s always easy to get tickets in Washington, and you can get HALF PRICE tickets.

If you order tickets through the Nationals’ web site (for Monday’s game only), type in the promotion code PATRIOTIC (use caps) and you’ll be able to get tickets in multiple locations at Nationals Park for half price.

Hot dogs, beer and Phillies baseball in the nation’s capitol = perfect Memorial Day.

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Easy Road Ahead for Phillies

The Phillies survived.

Over the last 20 games, the Phillies played one of their toughest stretches of the  season.  It included: six games against Atlanta, six games against Florida, a pair against St. Louis and Colorado, three games against the defending AL champion Texas Rangers and a four-game series with Cincinnati.

Now, after going 10-10 in that stretch, the team is healthier (Utley and Contraras are back) and heading into a stretch of 16 games against far inferior competition.

The Phillies will play three against the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and Dodgers before playing four against the Cubs.  The combined winning percentage of the these teams is .449.

This is the first opportunity the Phillies will have to separate themselves from the rest of the NL East with Utley back in the lineup and a stretch of easy games ahead.

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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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