Cole Hamels’ Return Spoiled By Quiet Bats, Bullpen


Boy, we missed you. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Final: Los Angeles Dodgers 5 – Philadelphia Phillies 2

Cole Hamels returned to the mound for the first time in 2014 this evening, and performed admirably against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first start. Almost anyone else wearing a Phillies jersey, however, was less than impressive.

Suffering with biceps tendinitis since late Winter, Hamels dissuaded immediate fears of a Roy Halladay-style issue with a good first outing against the Dodgers. His 6.0 IP took up 86 pitches (55 strikes), and he is now the proud owner of a line consisting of 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K against one of the strongest lineups in baseball.

It’s not quite mid-season Cole form, but that’s a good outing by any “average” pitching standards. 86 pitches seems a little low, but it’s likely that Ryne Sandberg was being cautious in not over-extending Hamels in his first outing back from injury. It appears that his next start will come against the Mets next Tuesday, and look for him to be even more comfortable against a comparatively weaker team.

Additionally, Hamels continued the trend set by AJ Burnett yesterday and provided a little offense toward his own cause, singling in the third. This otherwise unspectacular moment is notable because it provided 20% of all hits managed by the Phillies in this game. Zack Greinke man-handled the team for 7 IP, and on the whole Philadelphia generated a meager five hits, and collectively struck out 13 times.

Outside of the noted offensive weapon that is Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley each doubled, while Ryan Howard hit an RBI single and walked once. One moment deserving serious positive recognition is that from Jayson Nix, who impressively pumped a pinch-hit HR to end Greinke’s night in the 8th, in his only plate appearance.

And then, there’s that. Baseball, girl, you crazy.

That was the extent of the offense for the night, with Howard and Nix providing the only two runs scored.

Freddy Galvis started the game at 3B over Cody Asche yet again, despite his .050 BA. The likely explanation is Cody Asche’s own recent offensive struggles (though they aren’t that bad), and Galvis’ far superior defense (which adds less value at 3B than SS, especially with a strikeout pitcher on the mound).

Unless there’s some additional issue that’s not been made public, I’m hoping Asche starts tomorrow against RHP Dan Haren in the final game of the series. It would be nice to see him get more everyday ABs, and he’s been a slow-starter historically throughout his career.

Speaking of things that would be nice to see changed, Phillies fans were #BLESSED enough to have three innings of bullpen work again tonight!

Jeff Manship, Mario Hollands, and Shawn Camp each got their names drawn from the Ryne Sandberg Reliever Dartboard of Desperation™. One by one, each ran out, pitched their allotted 2/3 of an inning, gave up two hits, maybe added a run or two, and sat down. The Post-Hamels era of this game was where it fell apart, and it has become more prevalent than ever that the bullpen needs addressing.

In slightly happier, only marginally-related news: Tonight top prospect Jesse Biddle pitched his second-straight start of 7 IP, and his second-straight start of only allowing 2 H and 1 BB, while earning 10+ K. He’s looking interesting again.

Next Game: 

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers 

Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 10:10 PM | Kyle Kendrick vs. Dan Haren