Saturday, April 11, 2009

And They're Off????

The news of Cole Hamels' disastrous outing in Colorado reached me without benefit of seeing the game or any of its lowlights as I spend the weekend in Boston. Suffice it to say three hundred miles are hardly a sufficient barrier to prevent the collective pain and anxiety from spreading northeast.

Hamels' protests of the last few weeks aside, that he isn't a "spring training pitcher" and that his velocity and command will come around, can no longer be taken a face value when the real games have started. Throwing batting practice in a major league park is not an option, but that is essentially what he did yesterday, stopping cold whatever momentum accrued on Wednesday afternoon when his mates staged a remarkable comeback against the Braves.

Everyone is worried, none more than Charlie Manuel and, presumably, Hamels himself. The huge increase in the number of innings he threw last season and accompanying charts on DNL and elsewhere tracking the impact such increases in other pitchers had on their performance is hardly reassuring. Couple those statistics with the Phillies' history of being less than forthcoming about the extent of injuries to its players and you have all the ingredients for rampant speculation about their ace pitcher's immediate if not long-term fortunes and, of course, those of his team.

Without Hamels the Phillies would be the only contender unable to run a true number one pitcher out to the mound every fifth day. The worries about the four guys immediately behind him on the depth chart harly inspires confidence.

Meanwhile, the Phils are off to their usual slow start at the plate. Except for that eight-run inning against the Braves, they aren't scoring runs, not in their own bandbox or in the friendly confines of Coors Field.

The pictures isn't pretty.

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