Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:47 pm
LOS ANGELES -- All credit to the all-world Phillies rotation. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the way, it is pitching for a place in history.
And we've all seen the damage wreaked by a highly decorated lineup led by Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
But you don't compile baseball's best record based behind just eight or nine players. And as such, the Phillies are getting plenty of help from these easily overlooked parts in their machine:
-- Reliever Antonio Bastardo: With closer Brad Lidge on the shelf for most of the season, Bastardo has played a key, late-innings role and currently is holding opponents to a .128 batting average -- second lowest among NL relievers. His 1.49 ERA is fifth-lowest among NL relievers.
-- Starter Vance Worley: With Joe Blanton done for the year, Worley is 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA and currently has won six consecutive decisions. He's fanned 66 hitters against only 28 walks in 84 1/3 innings.
-- Infielder Michael Martinez: With third baseman Placido Polanco hurt again, it is Martinez, plucked from the Nationals as a Rule V pick last winter, who is providing steady relief. Martinez's 15 RBI during the month of July ranked third among all NL rookies, behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (18) and the Padres' Jesus Guzman (18).
-- Outfielder John Mayberry Jr.: Acquired from Texas in a trade in November, 2008, Mayberry, 27, continues to develop into a serviceable backup outfielder with an intriguing future. Of his past 23 hits, 17 have gone for extra bases (and overall, 52.5 percent of his major league hits, 31 of 59, have been for extra bases).
-- Infielder Wilson Valdez: He's plugged in at second base, third base and shortstop at various times this season and, in an extra-innings pinch against the Reds on May 25, became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to start a game in the field and then become the winning pitcher. Though light-hitting overall, Valdez is batting .390 with runners in scoring position this season.
Shane Victorino, twice a Rule V pick himself (the Phillies took him from the Padres in 2004 after the Padres took him from the Dodgers in 2002), raves about Martinez and the "energy" he brings.
"Little pieces," Victorino says. "It always takes 25 guys. Somebody gets hurt, somebody else steps in."
Recalling when the Phillies signed pitcher Pedro Martinez for the stretch run in '09, Victorino said he was extremely wary of Martinez because of the reputation the pitcher brought as a fiery headhunter. But Martinez went 5-1 for Philadelphia in nine starts, pitched the Phillies into position to beat the Dodgers in a key NLCS game and Victorino now calls Martinez "the greatest teammate I've ever had."
"Here, it's all about winning, and winning right now," Victorino says. "If you don't care about winning, don't show up.
"We have so many superstars in here -- MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. But Martinez is no different from me because it's all about winning."
That's the way it is throughout the Phillies' clubhouse right now, an impressive culture that is steamrolling everything in its path.
Likes: With the trade deadline having passed and at least a little more free time in August, looking forward to a big date night with my wife to see Crazy, Stupid Love sometime soon. ... Lots of TV to catch up on as well: Last couple episodes of Treme, last five episodes of Friday Night Lights (that's only with trepidation, though, because it's the last season and while I can't wait to see the last few FNLs, I don't want to get through them because then one of my favorite shows in recent memory will be done, sniff, sniff) and the first few episodes of Entourage. ... Haven't gotten all the way through it yet, but I'm liking Sky Full of Holes, the new Fountains of Wayne disc.
Dislikes: I realize there are plenty of parents out there who disagree with me, but man I hate to see summer dwindle down to its last few weeks before school starts again. Summer is never, ever long enough.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Then she wakes me with coffee
"And kisses my head
"And she starts to explain
"About something she's read
"I say, 'Darlin', you haven't heard a word that I've said'
"And I love that girl."
-- John Hiatt, I Love That Girl
Tags: Antonio Bastardo, Babe Ruth, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Fountains of Wayne, Friday Night Lights, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, John Hiatt, John Mayberry Jr., Michael Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Vance Worley, Vance Worley, WIlson Valdez
Posted on: October 14, 2009 10:58 pm
LOS ANGELES -- The Phillies and Crazy Like a Fox Manager Charlie Manuel are at it again.
They named only their Game 1 starter, Cole Hamels, on Wednesday for the NL Championship Series.
Manuel said he'd get back to everybody with further rotation details.
Last round, the Phils named only their first two starters, leaving everybody to guess on their Game 3 starter. J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton were the favorites, which made for a real interesting scenario when Manuel summoned each of them in relief in Game 2.
For the NLCS after Hamels ... based on his starting Monday in Colorado, Cliff Lee probably will pitch Game 3. Happ, who started Sunday in Denver, likely will pitch Game 4.
Which leaves Game 2 a mystery.
Don't look now, but indications are that it could be Pedro.
Manuel said Wednesday that Blanton and Happ would be available out of the bullpen in the "first few games" of this series. Martinez, meantime, threw a simulated game Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Which means, adding two and two, you get ... Martinez as the Phillies' Game 2 starter?
"I'll say this about Blanton: I definitely look at Blanton as a starter," Manuel said a moment after confirming that Blanton would be available out of the bullpen in Game 1. "I told you before, he is the guy that can really set our bullpen up. In front of [Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson] ... give me some leverage in the back, if that makes sense.
"And I feel like he is that guy, ... with the mentality and the go get 'em and the grit and the desire and whatever you want to say."
Regarding Martinez, who has not pitched in a game since Sept. 30 and has thrown only seven innings since Sept. 13, Manuel said he was impressed with Pedro in Tuesday's simulated game.
"His stuff is there," Manuel said. "That speaks for itself. Tremendous, beautiful pitch. And therefore he gets back his command. In order for him to pitch good and win games, he's got to have good command."
Posted on: October 7, 2008 7:57 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies will stay with what got them to this point when the National League Championship Series opens here on Thursday evening: Left-hander Cole Hamels will start Game 1, followed by right-hander Brett Myers, lefty Jamie Moyer and righty Joe Blanton, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee.
No official word yet on the Dodgers, who were traveling and expected to arrive later Tuesday night. They're set up to begin with the same three starters who pitched them to a sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the divisional series: Right-handers Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda.
It is expected that Dodgers manager Joe Torre will leave those three in place and go to a four-man rotation in the best-of-seven NLCS. Assuming he does, he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt must decide on a No. 4 starter, which probably will come down to left-hander Clayton Kershaw or right-hander Greg Maddux.
Based on how the two pitched down the stretch, as well as on the chance to slot a lefty in against a potent Phillies lineup that includes MVP candidate Ryan Howard, it is expected that Kershaw will get the nod as the Game 4 starter.
As for the Phillies, who ranked fourth in the NL with a 3.88 ERA this season, the current alignment leaves them very well-balanced between right- and left-handed starters as well as relatively hard-throwers (Myers, Blanton), a change-up specialist (Hamels) and a soft-tosser (Moyer).
"We're comfortable the way it is," Dubee said. "You start flipping it around, and then somebody is going to have 10 days off (between starts), and that's not good."
Philadelphia's starting pitchers ranked fourth in innings pitched among NL rotations (966 2/3) and ranked second in quality starts (88).