The Phillies so far this season have a game of musical chairs going with the pitching staff. Brad Lidge, JC Romero, and Joe Blanton all started the season on the DL. Kyle Kendrick who had been demoted to the bullpen, got promoted back to the rotation. Andrew Carpenter went from Opening Day starter for Lehigh Valley to bullpen for Philadelphia. Nelson Figueroa was released by the Mets, then signed by the Phillies and sent to bullpen. As a result, Andrew Carpenter was sent back down to AAA Lehigh Valley. As Romero comes off the DL, JA Happ goes on the DL. Romero to the pen and Figueroa to the rotation.
Get all that? Phillies pitchers have been bouncing all over the place like human pinballs. Within a couple of weeks, both Lidge and Blanton should be coming off the DL. It is very possible that Happ is ready to come off at the same time. So some big decisions are going to have to be made soon. Once Happ and Blanton are back with the club, Kendrick will probably be optioned to AAA to resume as a starter. Figueroa may be DFA’d depending on his play.
The person who is benefitting from this all? Rule 5 Draft pick David Herndon. Herndon has gotten into some games here and there in basically a mop up capacity. His overall numbers do not tell the whole story in the least bit. Outside of the Marlins game in which he gave up 4 earned runs, Herndon has done a good job. Only one hit in that game was hit hard. Everything else were balls beaten into the ground for infield singles. He will have to continue to do a good job to have a chance to beat out Kendrick, Contreras, Bastardo, and Figueroa. Luckily, Kendrick and Bastardo can be sent down to the minors. Figueroa may just be DFA’d unless he has a spectacular game on the mound AND at the plate against Arizona.this weekend. Based on what we have seen so far, I think that Herndon has a good chance to stay in the bullpen.
Outside of Roy Halladay, the Phillies rotation has been less than stellar. If not for the Red Zone Offense that Manager Charlie Manuel has been playing and the outstanding work the bullpen has been far more than expected. Between Cole Hamels, JA Happ, Kyle Kendrick, and Jamie Moyer, the four starters have averaged 4.2 IP per start. Granted Happ still has an ERA of zilch, he is averaging only 5 innings per start. Kyle Kendrick, who is filling in for injured starter Joe Blanton, has been absolutely ROCKED in two starts. I know it is only the second week of the season, but if this trend continues much longer, not only will the Philliies starting rotation become more and more nerve racking, but the bullpen will become highly taxed and may not be able to last the rest of the season intact and healthy.
Even though he didn’t win. JA Happ deserves a tremendous congratulations for finishing 2nd in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Happ finished a slim 10 points behind winner Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins. It may have come down to that final series game in which Happ gave up 2 hits to Coghlan in the first two innings.
Happ had a great rookie season that he hopefully builds off of. 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA. 119 strikeouts in 166.0 innings. As a starter, Happ went 10-4 with a 2.99 ERA. Fine numbers for a number 3-4 pitcher. It’s good that that is all that is expected of him. Hopefully 2010 will have similar results as Happ will most likely start the season as the Phillies number 4 pitcher behind Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton. The only difference should hopefully be the lack of distraction at the end of July.