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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 8:35 PM

    Well seeing as to how I don’t know your mother I suppose I will forever be left hanging in suspense as to the meaning of your name. *sigh* PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  2. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    Good one Charlie… I’m assuming I can call you Charlie as it feels as though we are on a first name basis. And instead of showing my ID I can simply say to the ticket agent, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!” PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  3. Charlie Manuel - Nov 3, 2009 at 8:49 PM

    John, I would prefer you called me Mr. Manuel, coach, or skipper. You must only accept the tickets from the six-fingered man. And, unfortunately, it is inconceivable that the Phils will beat the Yankees. I am just glad they haven’t figured out that I don’t have a clue when it comes to managing anything other than a five & dime store.

  4. steve - Nov 3, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    No predictions whether there will be a game 7 or not. Simply, the Phillies must focus, quit making those little miscues, as when they do, the Yankees capitalize. IF and I say IF they can play good basic baseball and get some decent pitching, there just may be a game 7. Unfortunately the series ends here in Yankee Stadium. Just playing there takes athletes to a lesser step in winning. It’s basically the worst place to be and it does do something to any foe that plays there. We’ll just have to see if they’ve matured since last week.

  5. Ava - Nov 3, 2009 at 9:15 PM

    The Phillies better have Sandy Koufax waiting in the bullpen if they want to make it to a game 7. No way does Pedro pitch a complete game – it’ll be a good game for him if he makes it through 6 innings. They couldn’t hold an 8-2 lead last night, that’s pathetic.

  6. Old Gator - Nov 3, 2009 at 10:19 PM

    Speaking from my endowed chair of baseball history up here in the ivory tower, Hamels was definitely not his old self against the Marlins this past season. I don’t recall exactly what his record against them was but in prior seasons he could tip his cap to the Feesh and giggle “who’s your Daddy” and they would all prostrate themselves like imams facing Mecca and drone, “You are, oh Divine Cole Hamels.” They couldn’t hit him if he were Mister Creosote and they were firing shotguns at him from twenty paces. This year, they pounded him on several occasions, and I do mean pounded him. Even their outs were hit like photons. Hamels used to be the iceman but this year you got the distinct impression that he was succumbing to global warming. If I were Eddie Sawyer…heh heh, sorry, I mean Charlie Manuel, I would definitely find someone else to start a hypothetical game 7.

  7. John - Nov 4, 2009 at 12:40 AM

    Couldn’t hold the lead in game five, so did the Phillies lose? No they won which means they did hold the lead, silly Ava. PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

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