There is a Chinese proverb – or at least a line in a speech by Robert F. Kennedy – that says “may you live in interesting times.”
Whether to view that as a blessing or a curse is the choice of the listener.
One thing is certain – as the Phillies struggle to reach .500 (they are currently 19-22), the way they are going about it is interesting to say the least.
For one thing, a Roy Halladay with an 8.65 ERA and a shoulder which needed surgery is an “interesting” development. Looking more deeply into Halladay’s season, he struck out 35 batters in 34-1/3 innings. The last time Halladay struck out more than one batter per inning in the major leagues was…never.
How about the 4 starts lasting 4 or fewer innings? Then again, how about the complete game against the Cardinals? OK, so it was a rain-shortened, 7 inning complete game. But it came right after Halladay threw 8 innings of 1-run ball at Miami and right before he threw 6 innings of 1-run ball against Pittsburgh.
What about the 9 home runs allowed – one per 3.8 innings. That would translate to 48 longballs if Halladay pitched his typical 200 innings.
Halladay did undergo “successful” surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles, as termed by a statement released by the Phillies. The good news is that he will be cleared to begin throwing a baseball in 6-8 weeks. The bad news is the soonest he will return to a big-league mound is in 3 months.
And that’s if all goes well.
Phillies’ team doctor Michael Ciccotti sounded a cautionary note: “The combination of a rotator cuff injury and a labral injury is a challenging injury for a professional pitcher to navigate through…we remain cautiously optimistic about it. And given the person that he is, the motivation that he has, the dedication that he has, he has all the intangibles that are important in getting someone back. But we’re realistic about it, too, that it is very possible that he is not pitching at the level that he wants or what Phillies fans and his teammates deserve him to be pitching at.”
Here’s a sobering thought – Mark Prior never made it back from his 43-2/3 innings, 38 strikeouts, 9 homers allowed and 7.21 ERA in 2006.
Interesting times, part II: The Phillies are 1-8 in games started by their $153 million man, Cole Hamels. Hamels himself has a 1-6 record in 2013.
Most say he is pressing to hard to be the #1 starter on the Phillies and live up to his contract.
On top of that, Hamels has gotten poor run support in most games. But it also seems like when he gets the run support, he gives up that many more runs.
Yes, the Phillies have lost 2-0 twice and 2-1 twice in games Hamels has started.
But they also have lost 7-5, 9-8 and 10-4.
In short, Hamels is pitching well enough to lose.
Considering that the Phillies are 18-14 in games not started by their ace – whatever the cause, Hamels needs to start pitching well enough to win.
Interesting road trip: The Phillies bookended a pair of wins at the beginning (San Francisco) and end (Arizona) of their western trip last week around a 3-game losing skid, to end up with a 4-3 mark on the trip.
Considering that the Phillies had just dropped 2 of 4 at home to the lowly Marlins, including their second 14-2 pasting of the week, a winning road trip was a pleasant surprise.
Adams to join Halladay on the shelf? Mike Adams was supposed to end the Phillies’ 8th inning problems.
For the most part, he has done just that – though he has not been his usually dominant self this year.
After battling back from thoracic outlet syndrome, Adams now has a bad back, which flared up Sunday while shagging fly balls in Arizona.
Adams disclosed that he would likely get an MRI soon to determine whether he needs to go on the DL or can wait this out.
While Antonio Bastardo (2.08 ERA in 16 apearances) and Justin De Fratus (2 scoreless appearances) have pitched well so far this season, losing Adams would be a tough blow to a team struggling to gain consistency in the bridge between their starters and Jonathan Papelbon.
Interesting times, part III: The Phillies saved Carlos Zambrano from independent league purgatory by signing him to a minor league deal Wednesday.
Statistically, Zambrano’s 2012 was not far off from Roy Halladay’s, especially when you factor in that the Marlins overall finished with 12 fewer wins than the Phillies last season:
Zambrano 7-10, 4.49 ERA in 20 starts
Halladay 11-8, 4.49 ERA in 25 starts
But in terms of the clubhouse, there could not be a more opposite pair of players.
Halladay is by all accounts a great teammate, who even apologized to Phillies fans for trying to pitch through his problems this season and for how it ended up.
It will be interesting if the Phillies – who right now are riding Jonathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd and will eventually get John Lannan back – turn to Zambrano by July 1, when he can opt out of his deal if he is not on the Phillies’ active roster.