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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Game 105: J.A. Happ shuts out the Rockies (60-45)

If you can argue that Cole Hamels is your fourth-best pitcher, you have a ridiculous rotation. J.A. Happ beat the Rockies tonight behind 9 shutout innings and 3 Phillies home runs. The Rockies are a team that demolishes left-handed hitting, yet Happ still killed them. It was a huge effort from Happ for multiple reasons:

1) The Rockies are a potential first-round opponent, and in the midst of a divisional race with the Marlins and Braves, you need to beat the good teams (as well as Washington) to lock down the playoff spot. The Marlins are currently trailing, and the Phillies currently hold a 5.5-game edge in the East.

2) The shorthanded bullpen pitched 4 innings last night, and a complete game is significant for the pen's rest.

3) Happ is now even less likely to find himself in the bullpen if Pedro Martinez joins the rotation.

If the Phillies are even considering moving Happ to the bullpen, then Ruben Amaro needs to drop the hallucinogens from his diet. It is so blatantly obvious that Jamie Moyer is the weakest starting pitcher. Happ's ERA is under 3, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton has had a 2.33 ERA since May 22. Moyer's 5.55 ERA is nearing Eatonia, and if Martinez shows he can start, then the only possible option is Moyer. I know an 82 MPH fastball is not ideal for the bullpen, but a 5.55 ERA is not ideal for the starting rotation. Also, I highly doubt Moyer would perform much worse than Kyle Kendrick as a reliever. It's a no-brainer: Happ stays.

As for the game, it was good to see Manuel allow Happ to complete the shutout, even though Ryan Madson was warming up. However, I think it's time to switch Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth in the lineup. Werth has a higher season-OBP than Ibanez, which means the 5-spot will reach base more often, and Ibanez's higher BA means the 6-spot will knock in more runs. Obviously, the key to the switch would be breaking up the 3 lefties so that a LH-reliever cannot come into the game and face 3 lefties without seeing Werth - a lefty killer.

The Marlins lost, and the Phils are still 6 games up despite a 2-5 stretch. The NL East is weak, and the Phils will have a chance to bury the Marlins this weekend.

Tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 pm LHP Cliff Lee faces RHP Aaron Cook for the series win.

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