Potential Halladay Replacement Struggling In His Own Right

Potential Halladay Replacement Struggling In His Own Right

The last time a Phillies starter was headed for the shelf, Adam Morgan made for an impractical fill-in. By the time John Lannan was officially DL’d the morning of Apr. 18, the prized 23-year-old lefty was already five innings deep into his scheduled start for the IronPigs that afternoon. So if Morgan was going to be the one to get the ball for Lannan’s next turn, he’d have had to do it on short rest.

The organization opted against it.

With Roy Halladay likely headed to the DL with what he and GM Ruben Amaro described yesterday as “discomfort” in his throwing shoulder, and with Morgan’s throwing schedule making for a seamless switch, there are grounds for a different kind of uneasiness.

Morgan didn’t look too good yesterday either and hasn’t in a while.

Morgan was lit up for four runs in four innings on Sunday against Indianapolis – incidentally, the Triple-A affiliate of the team that blasted Halladay for eight runs in 3 2/3 in his second-to-last time out, the Cleveland Indians. The 140-character scouting report:

After surrendering no more than two runs in any of his first three starts (1.42 ERA), Morgan’s been served four runs in each of the three since (6.89 ERA).

On paper, the alternatives aren’t exactly enticing either. Ethan Martin, ranked 76th on MLB.com’s pre-2013 top 100 prospect list (Morgan was No. 92 on Keith Law’s list), has surrendered 14 earned in 13 innings over his three most recent times out. Martin’s next scheduled turn is tomorrow, so the organization could give him a reduced load then to make him available for May 10 in Arizona.

Obviously, minor league performance – both good and bad – doesn’t always translate.

Tyler Cloyd was crushed for a 4.91 ERA in six starts with the Phillies last year after going 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA at Triple-A and grabbing International League MVP honors. And though he was mushed for 10 earned in 9 1/3 innings through two starts at Lehigh Valley this year, Jonathan Pettibone has been pretty serviceable for the varsity team, going 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts, all Phillies wins.

Morgan’s probably the ideal option, not only because of the timing and his pedigree, but also because of how he manned up on Mar. 22 – the last time Halladay had to be plucked from the rotation, in spring training. With little notice, Morgan dealt the Braves 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

But as bad as Halladay’s been, due to injury or whatever else, you’d have to think anyone the Phillies throw on Friday will at this point be an upgrade – if only because he’ll likely be able to last in games and preserve the bullpen so the team can be competitive for the rest of the series.

Just know: if you’re sifting through minor league box scores for hope, you’re not likely to find it.

Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The cheers reverberating from George Mason's locker room came from players experiencing their hottest streak in years. The quiet from Penn State's mirrored the whimper of the Nittany Lions in the second half as their run was snapped.

Marquise Moore scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Otis Livingston added 18 points and the Patriots beat Penn State 85-66 for their sixth straight win and best stretch since 2011-12 on Wednesday.

"It was a great win for our team, really proud of our guys," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "We really, really competed with toughness in the second half, especially I think our second-half defense was really good."

Jalen Jenkins added 15 points for the Patriots (7-3) who snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak.

Penn State led 38-37 after a wild first half that featured 12 lead changes. But the Raiders took control starting with Livingston's 3-pointer that made it 42-40 early in the second. They dominated from there, leading for the remaining 18:58 and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 44-29, outscored them 44-16 in the paint and held a speedy Penn State team to just two fastbreak points.

"We looked young tonight for whatever reason," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We have to figure that out. We have to play much harder."

Payton Banks led Penn State (6-4) with 21 points. Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens chipped in 13 apiece for the Nittany Lions.

The big picture
George Mason: The Patriots are on a roll and keeping pace in a competitive Atlantic 10 conference that had five teams with six wins entering the night. They seem to have flipped a switch following a 93-65 loss to Houston on Nov. 21 and haven't lost since.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had been winning despite deficiencies in a few areas while making up for them in others over the last four games. They weren't able to make up for their lack of production in the paint, however.

Guards on the glass
Paulsen was wary of the size advantage Penn State's forwards had heading in. The Patriots didn't start anyone over 6-foot-7 while Penn State boasted a trio of forwards at or taller than that. Paulsen was particularly concerned about 6-foot-9 Mike Watkins who was fresh off his best game where he blocked 12 shots against Wright State.

But the George Mason coach had faith in his guards' ability to attack the net and win those rebounds. Moore entered the game as the country's top rebounding guard with 10 per game and posted his sixth double-double of the season.

"We have some pretty good rebounding guards," Paulsen said. "So you can't do it unless you have really active, rebounding guards."

Veteran responsibility
Penn State's gotten big time contributions from a handful of freshmen and started three as usual. But it was one of the veterans who shouldered blame afterward.

Banks was dejected after the game and pointed the finger at himself. Despite leading the team in points, he wasn't able to help on the glass.

"A lot of it just starts with me right here," Banks said. "I had zero rebounds. We can't rely on Lamar (Miller) and Mike for the scoring load and Julian (Moore). Our guards have to rebound and that's what we lacked this game and it definitely showed on the scoreboard."

Up next
George Mason plays at Penn on Saturday and has three of their final five games in 2016 at home.

Penn State plays Pittsburgh in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday and has another on the road before closing out 2016 with a pair of games at home, including the Big Ten opener on Dec. 27.

Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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With one second on the shot clock, George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh let a three-point shot fly from the corner right in front of his bench.

Cavanaugh’s shot hit the bottom of the net to give the Colonials a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left. Moments later, Temple redshirt senior swingman Daniel Dingle’s open look at a game-tying shot hit off the back of the rim, and George Washington handed the Owls a 66-63 loss on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Temple (6-3) came into the game on a five-game winning streak but looked sluggish from the start. The Owls scored just five points in the game’s first six minutes, 34 seconds.

Temple went into halftime down, 31-25, and trailed George Washington (6-4) by as many as 15 points in the second half. Senior guard Josh Brown hit two threes late in the second half to bring Temple within six. Dingle hit two more to tie the game at 61-61 with 2:44 left. 

Two Cavanaugh free throws followed by a jumper from Temple sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. then tied the game at 63-63 with 39.1 seconds left.

The Owls played the game’s final moments without junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who fouled out with 3:41 left.

Enechionyia cooling off
Enechionyia was held in check for the second game in a row. He scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds but made only one basket in the second half.

The junior went 5 of 17 for 12 points against Penn on Saturday. He scored 20-plus points in five of Temple’s first seven games.

Inside the box score
• Colonials guard Jordan Roland came into the game averaging 4.3 points per game. Roland scored 14 points on Wednesday.

• Brown, who played his first game of the season last Wednesday against St. Joe’s, played a season-high 24 minutes. He played a combined 25 minutes in his first two contests.

• George Washington outrebounded Temple, 37-23. The Colonials had 18 turnovers compared to nine for Temple.

Up next
Temple plays DePaul in the Miami Hoophall Invitational on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.