TBOH Debate – The Cole Hamels Dillemma
By Mike Lacy
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Phillies. Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol, Alex Cheremeteff, and Pete Dymeck. This week, we discuss the “setback” experienced by Cole Hamels.
When do you expect Cole Hamels to make his first start of the season?
I really have no idea. It’s taken a bit of a Halladay-esque turn which is both worrisome and irritating. If it’s bad, just tell us. We’ve been hopeful, but realistic about our chances of winning – it’s worse to prop us up.
However, there’s the also chance that everything they’ve told us is accurate, and it’ll just be a couple more weeks than thought (although that wasn’t the case last time). I’m worried that Cole is too proud and competitive, and will push himself to pitch the last week of April regardless of how smart it is. (Halladay syndrome?)
However, if the team is telling the truth, that’s also an optimistic estimate of when he should be about ready. So, I’ll say he starts the last week of April, but what happens after that is both crucial, and completely unclear.
It is almost a certainty that Cole Hamels will not make an appearance in April. Judging by where he is in his throwing program, I don’t expect to see him before Memorial Day. A good barometer will be his bullpen session later this week.
Cole Hamels will likely make his first start some time in late April or early May after suffering another setback. Arm fatigue is synonymous with a variety of issues pitchers tend to have. Therefore, I won’t delve into the debate as to what the setback may actually be, we’ll just roll with arm fatigue.
Both Hamels and the Phillies insist that there’s no real physical problem. Based on the fact that they didn’t run an MRI on his shoulder makes me think that’s what they actually believe. Will it turn out to be the truth? Hard to tell, but for now, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and guess we see Hamels in the first week on May.
Jeff Manship. Image Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Who do you think will serve as the fifth starter while Hamels is out?
There’s been some recent talk about the possibility of the team using strategically placed off-days to use a four-man rotation until April 9th, at which point the Phillies have games on 18 consecutive days. That makes a lot of sense, and affords the Phillies to carry an 8th man in the bullpen.
It’s still too early in Spring to make any definitive statements about pitchers, but as a guy who came into camp as a very intriguing depth option, I think it would be worth it to carry Sean O’Sullivan as that roster spot, and then give him what is hopefully only 2-3 starts in order to keep him around.
I recommend him over in-house option David Buchanan because he already has big league experience, ate a lot of innings productively at AAA last season, and as a 25-year old starter, likely won’t accept a minor league assignment. Buchanan, while impressive in his two outings, likely needs more AAA time and is under no roster restrictions whatsoever.
Right now, Jeff Manship would be my choice to be the fifth starter while Hamels is out. He has been the most solid so far this spring. However, there is a reason why pitchers like Manship and Sean O’Sullivan have bounced around. Chances are good the numbers we see in Clearwater are a mirage.
We know the fifth starter won’t be Ethan Martin, Jonathan Pettibone or Adam Morgan. Die-hard fans can’t wait for Jesse Biddle to make his first MLB start but that isn’t likely to come until later this year, if at all. Right-handers Sean O’Sullivan, Jeff Manship, David Buchanon and Miguel Gonzalez are the front-runners for the gig. Unfortunately, none of the above are very appetizing. The Phillies official homepage has recently placed plenty of Manship news on their front page so I’m gonna suggest he is the favorite. It’s a good thing he won’t be needed until approximately April 10th.
The Phillies seem to like both David Buchanan and Jeff Manship, as the coaching staff has gone out of their way to praise them recently. That isn’t entirely surprising since it now seems likely that one of them will be in the rotation to start the season. Considering that Manship has major league experience, I’ll name him the early favorite, but both men will have a few more chances to assert themselves (or to fall apart). Who knows, maybe Manship will turn out to be the Phillies’ version of Ryan Vogelsong? Wouldn’t that be nice?
What do you think? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.
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