Cole Hamles pitched five innings in a 7-1 victory today allowing one hit and one walk against the newest member of the American League, the Houston Astros.
From there, the Astros faced Tyler Cloyd, Zach Miner, Jeremy Horst and Justin De Fratus and managed to, well, managed nothing. After Hamels’ departure the foursome combined to throw four innings of hitless, scoreless baseball. Miner and Horst each notched a pair of strikeouts as well.
With three weeks to go before opening day, it was a promising start for Hamels. After the game he admitted he needs to be a bit more consistent, but he will have several more starts to make the minor adjustments needed before April 1st.
The remaining weeks are going to be important for all the players still left in camp. There are only three bullpen spots with six or seven guys who have a realistic chance of filling them. It was important that De Fratus and Horst pitched the way they did today, not only for the Phillies, but for their own respective claim at a seat in the bullpen.
The battle over who stays and who goes will be fun to watch throughout the rest of spring training. It may be the most important too. The eighth inning struggles from a season ago have been well documented. The team lost a remarkable twelve games in which they carried a lead into the eighth inning.
From a statistical standpoint, they cannot magically get a better bullpen and improve by twelve wins this coming season. It doesn’t work like that. However, from a morale standpoint knowing that the bullpen isn’t going to burst into flames has to count for something. I know something like that is not quantifiable but I don’t think that means it should be brushed aside. If anything, a bullpen filled with more “sure things” is beneficial to my remote control’s survival rate.