Cole Hamels dominated the Mets at Citi Field earlier tonight.
The first three words of that aforementioned sentence are not exactly surprising. Hamels has been absolutely owning opponents since the beginning of June, posting a 1.58 ERA over that span.
The fourth and fifth words are a bit more shocking. Hamels rarely ‘dominates the Mets.’ He entered the contest with a 7-14 record and a career 4.53 ERA against them. One would need to take a time machine back to August 14, 2006 — his first career start against the Mets — to find the last time he tossed a scoreless outing against them.
They normally give him fits, but tonight, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Hamels is completely locked in, and during one of the greatest stretches of his career, there is some speculation that it was his final start in Phillies pinstripes with the trade deadline set for Thursday at 4 p.m.
Nope. I’m not buying it.
I’m not beleiving it because if the Phillies were to trade their 30-year old ace, they literally might not be able to field a rotation next season.
I had this in my head for a few days, but the graphic at the top of the page that appeared on Phillies Pregame Live should tell the story. Out of all the pitchers that currently comprise the team’s rotation, Hamels is the only one who really has a good chance to return.
Cliff Lee is about to turn 36 and coming off an elbow injury that cost him two months of his season. If that never happened, it’s likely that he would be dealt, and it is still widely believed that the Phillies will look to move him in the winter once he reestablishes value.
A.J. Burnett could be traded although a 2015 contract option complicates that. He may also simply retire, something he nearly did last winter.
Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez are both free agents once the season ends.
Now, you could certainly think that the two of them won’t be missed, but a club still needs bodies to take the ball every fifth day. One of the biggest issues is the lack of starting pitching depth in the organization, and this exercise brings that problem to the forefront.
Jesse Biddle’s future is up in the air after a rough patch in the minors led to some time off. Aaron Nola won’t be ready and nor should he be. Jason Marquis and Sean O’Sullivan are two veteran names in the system right now — You start to get the idea of how serious this is.
Aside from a few attractive names at the top, the starting pitching market for free agents is pretty weak.
If Hamels were to be traded, you are essentially looking at an Opening Day rotation of Lee and four number 5 starters (David Buchanan likely being one of them).
The team most linked to Hamels has been the Dodgers with Joc Pedersen, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias the reported players. This would be a haul for the Phillies in theory as all three are currently rated as Top 20 MLB prospects, but only Urias is a pitcher out of that trio.
Due to an unwillingness to waive no-trade clauses among other things, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins figure to be here next season, which means that the Phillies — delusional or not — will enter the year with some intention of trying to win.
As flawed as Ruben Amaro’s stuck in the mud approach might be, it stands a much better chance that the Phillies catch lightning in a bottle with Hamels in the rotation than without him.
David Murphy kinda, sorta argued the opposite yesterday in the Philadelphia Daily News. I’m not buying it when considering the uncertainty that comes with the return in just about any deal here.
While trying to look at this logically, I’ll admit that I’m not completely unbiased when it comes to the issue at hand. I wrote about Hamels and how I hoped he would be here for years to come just three months ago.
Coming up on 39 hours to go though, I am confident that I will get my wish because regardless of the offer, the alternative will not just weaken the Phillies five-man rotation next season, it could essentially leave them without one.