Below the cut is a deeply personal story about watching Cole Hamels’ no-hitter with my family during an emotionally charged time and the role of baseball in our relationships with loved ones.
Cole Hamels‘ no-hitter Saturday against the Chicago Cubs sent the Phillies’ record to 7-1 since the All-Star break, the best record in baseball — tied with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants — in that span of time. Their one loss was the 1-0 game against the Tampa Bay Rays in which Aaron Nola made his major league debut. At 36-63, the Phillies’ lead for the worst record in baseball has shrunk to 5.5 games over the Miami Marlins and seven games over the Colorado Rockies.
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.
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:
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.
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.
With a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday against the Miami Marlins, Jeff Francoeur helped the Phillies polish off their first series sweep since May 15-17 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was Frenchy’s second big home run of the series and one of several timely hits he’s had this year. Observe:
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.
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.