The Philadelphia Phillies lost on Wednesday. That will happen another 60-70 times this year conservatively, so nothing really to be alarmed about here, other than the bullpen’s continued inability to get the job done.
If nothing else, at least Cole Hamels erased any doubt about where he’s at coming off the disabled list. In his first start of 2014, the one-time World Series MVP wasn’t anything less than we’ve come to expect despite earning the loss in a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Phillies’ win streak was snapped at three.
In short, Hamels did his job. The lefthander allowed two runs on six hits and one walk through six innings of work, striking out five. Hit ball had a lot of life, and the Dodgers didn’t exactly hit him hard—both good signs after missing the first few weeks with a dead arm.
When he exited the game, the Phillies were trailing 2-1.
There was a slight hint of controversy over Hamels’ early hook. King Cole was only up to 86 pitches at that point, and would later tell reporters there was plenty left in the tank. Can’t blame a great competitor for being unhappy with that.
Cole Hamels said he did not know why he was removed after 86 pitches. "He did his job," Ryne Sandberg said.
— Matt Gelb (@magelb) April 24, 2014
After all, not only was the guy dealing. He was one of only four Phillies players in the starting lineup to come up with a base hit.
Given Hamels wasn’t even replaced in a pinch-hit situation, it’s difficult to argue this was anything less than a confounding move by Phils manager Ryne Sandberg. Watching relievers Jeff Manship and Mario Hollands let the game get away in the seventh and eighth frames only confirmed playing it overly safe with Hamels almost certainly was not the best option.
Not surprisingly, Philadelphia’s bullpen is already the worst in baseball with a 5.64 earned run average. The unit ranked 27th last season.
But I digress. The Phillies’ pen stinks, and there are few good solutions. At least with the return of a healthy Cole Hamels, maybe Sandberg won’t be as quick to rely on relief on another of the club’s every fifth day.