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Should the Phillies start Cole Hamels in Game 7?

Nov 3, 2009, 2:01 PM EDT

Cole Hamels has clarified his headline-grabbing quotes about wanting the season to be over and last night’s incident with Brett Myers may have just been an attempt at humor, but the left-hander’s 7.58 ERA this postseason still has Phillies fans questioning if he’s the right choice for a potential Game 7 start against CC Sabathia.
Charlie Manuel has already picked Pedro Martinez to start tomorrow, but an alternative would have been to give J.A. Happ the Game 6 nod and save Martinez for Game 7. While the notion of a World Series-deciding Martinez-Sabathia matchup is exciting, the Phillies obviously need to win Game 6 before there can be a Game 7 and holding Pedro back for a start that may never arrive would leave Manuel open to tons of criticism.
In other words, worry first about forcing a Game 7 and then worry about how to win a Game 7. If the Phillies win tomorrow night behind a strong outing from Martinez they can go with either Happ or Hamels in Game 7 while also having basically everyone on the pitching staff available in an all-hands-on-deck situation. That wouldn’t have been true with Happ starting Game 6 and Martinez reserved for Game 7.
Of course, the choice between Hamels or Happ is another issue entirely. Back in spring training the notion of going with Happ over Hamels in a World Series-deciding start would have seemed absolutely absurd, but it’s certainly a legitimate question at this point. During the regular season Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA compared to Hamels going 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA, and Hamels has allowed 16 runs in 19 postseason innings.
On the other hand Happ hasn’t started since Game 3 of the NLDS way back on October 11, when he gave up three runs while lasting just three innings against the Rockies. Since then he’s been used strictly as a reliever and has pitched sparingly while not being particularly effective, serving up a homer to Nick Swisher in relief of Hamels in Game 3 and allowing four of 11 batters to reach base.
There are certainly reasonable arguments to be made on all sides. However, like Manuel my choice would be Martinez starting Game 6 with everyone available for a possible Game 7 rather than the other way around, and I’d still go with Hamels over Happ with the season on the line against Sabathia. Hamels started the Phillies’ final playoff game last season and he should get a chance to do the same this year.

  1. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:10 PM

    Yes, for Hammels will pull a 180 just as AJ did last night, only in the opposite direction. AJ went from being an ace to a bum, Hammels will go from being a bum to an ace! PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  2. Dan - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:12 PM

    in one word: NO

  3. Omega - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    They would be just as well as sending the Phanatic out there for Game 7.
    Hope and pray Pedro’s arm doesn’t fall off and their bullpen can eek out a Game 6 win and then start a rested Happ in Game 7, with the rest of the pen and rotation on stand by.

  4. Ditto - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    If there is a gme 7, PLEASE start Hamels! JOHN IS WRONG!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  5. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    There will be a game seven which Hammels will start and Lee will close and afterward the Phillies will be the 2009 WS Champs! PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  6. ROB JENSEN - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    There will be NO game 7, the bombers WANTED to lose game 5 to go home and win it in front of their own fans. NO game 7, Yankees 4 Phillies 2 all done.

  7. KimG - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:21 PM

    I agree Rob – Yankees wanted to go back home to finish it off. Besides, the Phillies better wake up and play much better to win game 5, which they worked hard to blow, but then the Yankees realized, “wait, don’t take advantage of the Phillies….let them win this one.” Seemed obvious to me.

  8. jen - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:25 PM

    yea sure looks like they wanted to lose last night, give me a break buddy….lets not make up excuses for losses on either side, it is 3-2 and we will see what happens tomorrow night – LET’S GO PHILS!

  9. Shely - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:46 PM

    Hey lets stop with the excuses. The Yankees wanted to win badly last night. They don’t need to extend this series further, and give any more chances to Philly. What do they care if they win on the road or at home. It is old hat to them. Besides it is one less game to play if they had won last night. They might want to go home and relax as soon as they can. I do agree, that there will be NO game 7. Yankees in 6 as I predicted last week. All the other stuff is silly.
    The Cincinnati Pro.

  10. ROB JENSEN - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:49 PM

    KimG I’m so glad to see I wasn’t the only one to be able to read between the bases and see what the Yankees were really doing. Thanks

  11. mike - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:03 PM

    Shely, is it really “old hat” to the Yankees? Aside from Posada, Jeter, Mo, and Andy, how much World Series experience does this team really have? The Yankees as an organization have been the most successful in all of sports with 26 (and hopefully soon, 27) championships, but that certainly doesn’t comfort ARod, Tex, Matsui, Swisher, Cano, CC, etc. Because for those guys, the only number of World Series championships they are familiar with to this point is 0. Having said that… I expect the Yanks to slam pedro tomorrow night and send him out of baseball for good with a night-to-forget. But I look forward to his post game remarks where he will act as if he just threw a perfect game and Yankee fans actually love him. Go Yanks!

  12. Mo Green - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    The only valid excuse not to start Hamels would be an injury. He’s the best option they have, it’s not rocket science.

  13. Shely - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:24 PM

    You are probably right about W-S experience, but these guys are quite used to winning. To win the W-S is new to many of them. Good point!

  14. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    We play today,we win today !!!

  15. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    Ohhhhh so the Yankees lost on purpose last night, man only if I had known that beforehand I could’ve made killing at the sports book. PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  16. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:34 PM

    If you reverse the time back 15 years ago, I was sitting under a mango tree without 50 cents to actually pay for a bus.

  17. lou - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    charlie should consider starting my myers. he has the fire it takes. he could get you a few innings to start game 7.

  18. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    John , why don’t you go sit under a mango tree with Pedro…….
    So John, how many games do you think it will take for the Phillies

  19. Jackson - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    John – you’re such a bold guy, picking phillies in 7 with 2 games to go, wow…gutsy call man. You might as well wait to see if there is a game 7 and then call phillies in 7.

  20. planktonDisciple - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    Historically, teams down 2-3 in the WS are 35-22 in game 6, and then 17-18 in game 7. Phillies do have a chance.

  21. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    For those of you who are new here (Jackson) originally I said Phillies in six but what is one game in the whole scheme of things for the main point is Philadelphia will be the 2009 WS Champs! And comeonman (stolen from ESPN’s NFL Countdown crew no doubt) unfotunately there are no mango trees in my neck of the woods. PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  22. Mike D - Nov 3, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    The Yankees did their job in Philly taking 2 out of 3. Now it’s on to NY for one last game. Howard can head back home with two things on his mind – setting an all-time record for strikeouts and hearing Sinatra’s voice ringing in his ears.

  23. LarryK - Nov 3, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    I’m absolutely amazed at the idiotic comments about the Phillies standing a chance. With a one-man pitching rotation, a choker for a closer, their #4 man helplessly flailing at pitches like a old woman swatting at porch flies, they stand no chance to beat the Yankees.

  24. LarryK - Nov 3, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    I’m absolutely amazed at the idiotic comments about the Phillies standing a chance. With a one-man pitching rotation, a choker for a closer, their #4 man helplessly flailing at pitches like a old woman swatting at porch flies, they stand no chance to beat the Yankees.

  25. LMM - Nov 3, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    John…AJ is not a bum, but you ARE an idiot.

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