Prior to taking the hill tonight for the Phillies, Roy Halladay was recognized as Jayson Stark's NL Cy Young of the Half-Year. Hard to argue with this assessment, and Stark points out that he gave the edge to Doc over the Braves' Jair Jurrjens partly because Halladay is the more feared pitcher.
"Here's the way I'd put it," one longtime NL scout advised Half-Year in
Review. "You've got 1 and 1-A, and Halladay is 1. And the reason
Halladay is 1 is that he's more feared." Another scout told me basically
the same thing, saying: "Halladay is a guy you can match up with the
toughest teams and anybody's No. 1. Jurrjens is on a hell of a roll, but
it's not the same level of dominance."
Starks didn't stop there though, he also went into those advanced stats that tell us what we already know: Roy is a beast.
Phillies fans, not content with having the top tog of the first half, should be excited to know the rest of Stark's picks for NL pitching supremacy, "My ballot: 1) Halladay, 1-A) Jurrjens, 2) Cole Hamels, 3) Cliff Lee, 4) Clayton Kershaw, 5) Tommy Hanson."
Yes, three of the top four pitch for the Fightins' this weekend. So spoiled.
>>Time for baseball's midseason awards [ESPN]
All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process.
Today, we finish up by taking a look at the Flyers.
How did we get here?
The Flyers' rebuild had begun when Ron Hextall returned to his old stomping grounds in the summer of 2013 as the team's new assistant general manager.
He took over GM duties after one season and the philosophical change was in place. Paul Holmgren was made president and Hextall's imprint, which had already started, was ready to become bigger.
What Hextall inherited was a cap-stricken team fresh off a first-round playoff loss, an organization that had tried to spend its way to immediate results instead of putting greater focus on the long game.
Some of the past decisions are well-documented: signing enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011 after trading for him. With a buyout, the Flyers are still paying Bryzgalov through 2027. Signing veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract in 2013. And signing imposing defenseman Chris Pronger to a seven-year, $34.55 million extension — nobody could foresee the unfortunate concussion issues that suddenly derailed Pronger's career, but it was nonetheless a hurdle for the Flyers moving forward.
Hextall has adeptly maneuvered through much of those rocky waters.
Now, the Flyers are a more cost-efficient (partly because they have to be in this salary cap world), draft-oriented organization planning for the future while not ignoring the present. This rebuild hasn't been a total demolition, but more of a retooling — a smart but tricky process, especially down the line.
Are the Flyers on the right path back to prosperity?
The youth is coming.
Hextall, oftentimes close to the vest, made that abundantly clear at his end-of-the-season press conference.
"Our young players, they've done enough," Hextall said in early April. "Our young players are going to get a long look. We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."
But the really hard part is just beginning — results. Can the prospects catch up and meet the current core? The pressure for it to start has never been higher.
Help does appear to be on the way, though, for a team that regressed this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years.
Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom and Carter Hart give the Flyers future options in net.
Two promising prospects are expected to join Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and company on the blue line.
Oskar Lindblom, a dynamic 20-year-old winger, could crack the Flyers' group of forwards, which should have Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula for a full season.
Also, don't forget forward Mike Vecchione, a Hobey Baker finalist who signed with the Flyers out of Union College in late March.
Oh, and the No. 2 pick of the draft — likely a talented center — is in the Flyers' grasp.
The 2017-18 season will be a telling time for the Flyers. Patience has been required, but when will it be rewarded?
The clock is ticking.
There are times in all of our Internet lives when we come across a piece of content that we don't quite understand, that we didn't really know we needed, yet fills our black Philadelphia sports fan hearts with joy anyway.
Today is one of those days.
And that piece of content is this Game of Zones x Embiid mashup.
If you're unfamiliar, this is the latest in Bleacher Report's fun take on a Game of Thrones / NBA mashup.
There's the mountain of a man that is Joel Embiid laid up with a presumably bum knee. There's the Temple of Shirley potion to give him life. There's the maester Sam Hinkie shouting off his analytics spells. There's Hinkie talking about growing the seeds and reaping the harvest. There's a terrifying looking Dario. There is a raising of the cat.
Perhaps the best part is Jahlil Okafor attempting to hold the door.
What does it all mean? I don't know. But I trust it.