Phillies ace Cole Hamels missed his first start of the season and got hammered for seven runs in 3.2 innings when he took the mound in Colorado last friday. So how serious is the situation for the Phillies? Is their season already in danger or is it just a minor setback? Adam Adkins and Daniel Paulling debate in Point-Counterpoint.
Losing Hamels Might End Phillies Season
By Adam Adkins
Cole Hamels being anything less than excellent is a potential death blow to a Philadelphia Phillies' team that has weaknesses far greater than public opinion would show. They replaced a young masher in Pat Burrell with an older less of a hitter who is equally as horrific in the field and on the basepaths. They did not strengthen a rotation that had two injury candidates and Father Time in it, and not only as members but as the 1-2-3 of the bunch. They did not get a third baseman, and they expected Chase Utley to be fine, and Ryan Howard to rebound, and Shane Victorino's batting average to not fall 15 points to his career averages, that Brad Lidge wouldn't revert back to his late-Astros days...
Cole Hamels is very important to the Phillies
It goes on and on. If they hope to win the NL East, they must have 220 innings of peak Hamels, who would be in the top 7 in the NL. But he's so flaky with his health--his minor league career looked a lot like Adam Miller's, just more dominant, but the same multitude of injuries. It is very likely that 2008 was far and away the best year Hamels will ever have, and if so, the Phils cannot overcome the ultra-talented Mets or the very-underrated Marlins.
But even if Hamels is fine, comes back and throws 200 dominant innings, kicks butt left and right, and Utley is great, and Howard's OBP climbs north of .350, and Victorino doesn't plummet, and Lidge is still good... these Phillies aren't good enough to win the East.
Not with David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran/Delgado, Johan Santana, JJ Putz, K Rod and the Sheff (just for clubhouse chemistry's sake) in Queens. Not with the Mets being better in every facet of the game (Offense, Check. Pitching, Check. Defense, Check).
Tell me how the Phils are better. Because of 2008? Because of career years? It's so unlikely that Jamie Moyer survives another year, and they need his innings. They need Brett Myers to not flip out and decide he doesn't want to pitch any more.
I don't see it. I really don't. Maybe I'm wrong, and if I am, I'll be here, telling you.
The Phillies will win about 83 games, comfortably behind both the Mets and the Marlins, and maybe even the Braves.
The defending World Champions could finish fourth. That's not about them, it's about the other teams improving, and the Phils didn't. They got worse. It's their fault.
Phillies Should Not Worry
By Daniel Paulling
Cole Hamels missed the Phillies’ Opening Day start because of elbow trouble, but managed to return Friday. Hamels’ fastball was in the mid-80s, when it usually rides somewhere between 89 and 93. He allowed seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the hapless Rockies. Needless to say, Hamels was not sharp.
This may be a launching pad for those who think the Phillies are stumped without their ace. However, it’s just a matter of time before Hamels is Hamels again. No, not the oft-injured, disappointing lefty he has been throughout his career, but the changeup throwing, imposing pitcher he was last season. That was the true marker of his talent.
Manager Charlie Manuel, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, said Hamels’ velocity and command should come back once he increases his number of innings. Hamels agreed with his manager, saying a low number of innings in spring training is what has held him back so far this season.
We can’t judge his 2009 season on one start. Sure, the elbow tenderness in spring training should raise some red flags. But the Phillies know this now and are more likely to pace Hamels throughout the season. This may be beneficial down the stretch. If the Phillies are in a tight playoff race -- and considering the NL East, they should be -- Hamels will be ready with plenty of bullets in his left arm.
As for the Phillies winning the division, that is a harder argument to make. If Hamels misses any significant amount of time because of injury, they are sunk. Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer form a solid 1-2-3 punch with Hamels, and the bullpen pitched well last season. Combine that with the best offense in the NL East, and the Phillies should be considered favorites once again.
Everything could change after Hamels makes his second start of the season Thursday, however.