Cole Hamels No-Hits the Cubs at Wrigley Field

Cole Hamels came into Saturday afternoon’s start at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs the subject of intense trade speculation and with a little bit of worry considering he had been hit hard in his previous two starts. He had everything working against the Cubs, using his patented mid-90’s fastball, loopy curve, and one of baseball’s best change-ups to stymie a lineup that included Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jorge Soler.

The start very well may be Hamels’ last in Phillies red. If that is the case, what a way to go out.

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The Phillies Are Set To Pull Off The Seemingly Impossible

The Phillies are in the midst of a truly remarkable run of baseball. Today, when Jerome Williams takes the hill in Chicago, he will become the Phillies tenth starting pitcher used in just their nineteenth game this month. Ten pitchers in nineteen games? It sounds impossible but the Phillies refused to back down from a challenge and, by gum, they’ve pulled it off. Take a gander at the Terrific Ten used to accomplish this incredible feat:

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Jonathan Papelbon’s Vesting Option Acting As Trade Deterrent

With a pair of scoreless innings pitched ahead of Wednesday’s walk-off win in the 10th inning, Jonathan Papelbon was credited with another game finished. He’s now 15 away from 100 combined games finished between 2014 and ’15. Once he reaches that threshold, his $13 million option for the 2016 season vests. With 33 through the Phillies’ first 97 games, he’s averaging one approximately every three games. 15 more over the remaining 65 games comes out to one every four games, so it’s an inevitability that Papelbon will get there, barring a serious injury.

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and Papelbon has repeatedly told the media how badly he wants out of Philadelphia, to play for a contending team. Papelbon has had a terrific season, getting the save in all 16 opportunities with a 1.63 ERA and a 39/8 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings. He would be an upgrade for any team that might acquire him.

Only one problem: that vesting option is a “sticking point” in trade negotiations, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. He says the Phillies don’t have any traction on a potential Papelbon deal.

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Happy Aaron Nola Day!

Aaron Nola is set to make his major league debut tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays, opposing Nate Karns. As expected, Nola progressed quickly through the Phillies’ minor league system since he was taken in the first round, seventh overall, in the 2014 draft out of Louisiana State University. It has taken the 22-year-old a little over a year since entering professional baseball to make his major league debut.

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The Inevitable Cesar Hernandez Slump Has Begun

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s comments with which he pronounced Cesar Hernandez the heir to the throne of Chase Utley, sidelined with an ankle injury, at second base. Along with the plain old disrespect to Utley it showed, Amaro’s confidence in Hernandez relied a great deal on a three-week-long hot streak that was never going to last.

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The Importance of Making Deadline Deals

With two weeks left until the July 31 trade deadline, the Phillies are expected to generate some activity as they have a handful of players who would benefit contending players. Getting rid of established veterans in return for younger players with upside is a rote part of any rebuilding process. However, the Phillies aren’t under equal amounts of stress to trade each and every player. They very well could head into August with certain players untraded and be A-okay with it. Let’s run through those trade pieces and judge the importance of getting rid of them.

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Did Maikel Franco Make the Right Call?

The Phillies lost in embarrassing fashion on Friday night to the San Francisco Giants, 15-2. Cole Hamels allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings, the worst start of his career, while the Phillies weren’t able to capitalize on any of the opportunities they had against Madison Bumgarner. After getting shut out in back-to-back games by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, it was hard to suffer a more demoralizing loss, but that’s exactly what happened at AT&T Park.

Lost in the hubbub of Hamels’ awful start, the Giants eruption of offense, and Justin De Fratus throwing 54 pitches over multiple innings again was a play that occurred in the bottom of the first inning. Hamels allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases with nobody out. Facing the ever-dangerous Buster Posey, Hamels was able to get the former Rookie of the Year and MVP Award winner to hit a ground ball to third baseman Maikel Franco. Franco had the choice of throwing home in the hopes of starting a 5-2-3 double play, but he opted to throw to second baseman Cesar Hernandez to turn a 5-4-3 double play.

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