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.
This week was tough so I am giving it to the entire starting rotation. Going into Friday’s series opener the Phillies starters had given up a total of 9 earned runs over 45 innings. That is good for a 1.80 ERA. The only starter that “struggled” was Moyer. Moyer surrendered 5 earned runs over a total of 12 innings pitched. Halladay was the only other starter to have two starts so far this week. He was lit up for 2 earned runs over 17 innings pitched. Kendrick, seemingly identifying his impending doom if he had another rough outing, pitched a gem in Houston going 8 strong and giving up no runs. Hopefully Hamels will have another solid outing in Arizona tonight and Blanton the same in his rehab assignment.
It seems the Phillies and the Red Zone Offense have stalled out momentarily. After tonight’s 4-3 loss to the Braves, the Phillies have now lost three in a row. Not many expected much out of Kyle Kendrick tonight, so it is not much of shock that the Phillies lost. It would have been nice after seeing Kendrick throw eight shutout innngs, but it was not meant to be. It looks like Halladay will suit up to take Happ’s spot tomorrow, so hopefully the Phils can get back on track.
In the past week, the Phillies got a complete game from their ace, finally didn’t have to bat first, and the majority of the team got their 2009 National League Champion Rings. Last Sunday, the Phillies finished off the sweep of possible number one overall pick in the 2011 draft Houston Astros. Halladay finished off the Astros with his 150th career win and 50th career complete game.
The Home Opening Series featured the Washington Nationals. The Phillies won 2 of 3 yet again, outscoring them 26-18. Kyle Kendrick struggled mightily against the Nationals in his second outing surrendering 6 earned runs in just 1.2 innings. Kendrick is scheduled to make his next start, but it could be his last unless he has a Spring Training-esque performance.
The second series of the home season was the first series that the Phillies lost this season. The Marlins played tough and you just have to tip their hat to them. The high powered Red Zone Offense fumbled the last two games of the series, scoring only one, yes one, run in the last two games.
The thing I took away from the homestand was simple, the bullpen is getting used way too much. In the past week, outside of Halladay’s complete game and Hamel’s eight inning outing to close out the homestand, the bullpen was relied upon more than necessary. So far this season, the Phillies have called upon a total of 12 pitchers.
The top four in innings pitched are Halladay, Hamels, Moyer, and Happ. You would think that Kendrick, as a starter, should have been fifth, yet he ranks eighth. Durbin, Madson, and Figueroa have all logged more innings than Kendrick.
Next week, the Phillies start a nine game road trip that includes their first West Coast swing. Included in this weeks schedule are three game sets against the division rival Braves, and NL West’s resident cellar dwellars, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Braves will be the Phillies first real test on the road this year. The Phillies ,Braves, and Marlins are most likely in it for the whole season, so hopefully the Phillies can smack the Braves around in Turner Field like they did in 2008. As of time of entry, the Phillies will have Kendrick, Happ, and Halladay going against the Braves. Happ may or may not make his start after concerns of forearm stiffness. The Braves will likely counter with Hanson, Hudson, and Lowe.
The Diamondbacks have a lowly 5-7 record, BUT they are 4-2 at home. Depending on how Kendrick’s outing against the Braves goes and how Blanton’s rehab start goes, it is possible that Blanton may possibly make his 2010 debut against the D-backs. I doubt it, but it is possible. My fair estimation of Blanton’s debut is probably the end of the first week or beginning of the second week of May. The Phillies will likely send Moyer, Hamels, and Kendrick againts Arizona. They most likely will be countered by Kennedy, Lopez, and Haren.
- Reasonable Prediction: 3-3
Based on recent outings Kendrick has a lot to prove. Even if he were to no-hit the Braves, I wouldn’t have a lot of faith. Kendrick goes twice this week, while Halladay and Hamels go once each.
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.
The Phillies took yet another blow to a thin area of their roster. Joe Blanton was placed on the DL with a strained left oblique, which means he is out 3 to 6 weeks. That move also effects the bullpen. Most likely to replace him is the loser in the fifth starter role, Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick who had an impressive ERA, but not so impressive peripheral numbers, was designated to the bullpen. That hurts the pen more because we learned that Lidge had to get a cortisone shot in the outer half of his pitching elbow.
The Phillies are down playing the whole cortisone shot saying that it is nothing to worry about, but one has to think about how secure the Phillies should be with Madson, Baez, and ? to close out their games. Do they stick Mathieson into a similar role and see how well he performs? Do you approach a guy like John Smoltz to see if he would be interested in closing. Smoltz would probably need about a month or so to get into shape. We should hopefully see Lidge saving games by that point.
As far as Blanton’s oblique, how serious of a strain is it? Is it a mild case like Happ had last season where he missed two starts or is it more serious like Clay Condrey’s. Condrey missed about a third of the season due to his oblique issue. The biggest problem is that the Phillies have very little valuable depth at starting pitching as it is. Having to sign Josh Fogg to a MiLB deal yesterday just to fill out the rotation in Lehigh Valley.
I would sitll inquire into Pedro Martinez to see how he is doing. Check in on Noah Lowry. Check the scrap heap. There will be a bunch of guys out of a job in the next week or so.
Philadelphia is surrounded by fives. Philadelphia is the 5th largest market in America. Soon to be former Eagle Quarterback Donovan McNabb wore number five. So did Phillies “legend” Pat “the Bat” Burrell. Today I am writing about the only number five of concern. The fifth spot in the Phillies rotation. The season starts in roughly a week, but in all acutality, the Phillies can get away with a four man rotation until April 24th barring any injuries or weather issues. Currently, there are only two in house options: Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer.
Both are having spectacular springs. Kendrick, who has been picking newly added ace Roy Halladay’s brain, is pitching to the tune of a 1.37 ERA in five (yes 5) games and four starts. He is currently second on the team in innings pitched behind Hamels at 19.2 innings pitched. While Kendrick’s ERA is very nice for spring training, his numbers in general are not as impressive. His Strikeout to Walk Ratio is 7 to 4. Groundout to Fly Ball Ratio is just over 1. He leads the team with SB allowed with 3. So where I think Kendrick can still develop into a quality starting pitcher, 2010 may not be his time.
Moyer, on the other hand, has a miniscule 0.77 ERA in two starts for the fightins. He also has a amazing 12 Ks. Neither of which should really estimate what Moyer could do during the regular season consider the majority of batters faced in spring training are all young kids trying to make a roster and are used to seeing 91-99 MPH heaters, not the devastating 80 MPH BBs that Moyer has in his aresnal. We all know that Moyers success hinges primarily on the umpire behind the plate. If Moyer gets that extra inch or two, he will have a good outing.
Right now the only free agent options to sign are Chad Gaudin and Noah Lowry. Both would be relatively cheap and could be signed to MiLB contracts. I imagine both wouldn’t be ready to start until the end of April, but as we already know, that is not much of a problem. Yes, there are a lot of starting pitchers available that could be signed with better resmues, i.e. Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and so on, but of those options, which would sign for as cheaply as either of those two would.
Of course RAJ (Ruben Amaro Jr.) could also trade for a fifth starter, but there are only so many pitchers that would be available for trade. Outside of bad contracts or players who are out of options and won;t make their roster, who else is available? Who out there could be better than Moyer and make it worth it for the Phillies to pay Jamie Moyer eight million dollars to pitch in relief or worse, not at all? Not much in my opinion.
So ultimately, I agree with Todd Zolecki over at The Zo Zone (http://zozone.mlblogs.com/). The Phillies have their number 5. And he wears number 50. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I would expect Jamie Moyer to be the Phillies fifth starting pitcher to open 2010. Whether he finishes 2010 there is a question for another day, but yes the ageless wonder will be our fifth starter. I wonder if Moyer’s jersey number is prophetic to how long he plans to pitch until. 50?