What’s Happ-ening? Phillies’ Pitching Rotation Thoughts

May 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Yesterday, the Phillies announced that a change was made to the starting rotation. Chan Ho Park has been moved to the bullpen and JA Happ was promoted to the fifth spot in the pitching rotation.

During spring training, Park appeared to be the clear winner in the competition for the fifth spot, but he has done little to defend the selection once the team headed north.

Park’s 2.53 ERA was clearly better than Happ’s 3.97 in just about equal innings of work in the Spring. Park had the edge in strike outs (25 to Happ’s 15), walks (two to Happ’s eight), and home runs allowed (one to Happ’s five). Unfortunately for Park it has been quite the opposite in the regular season.

Park’s ERA is 7.08. He has allowed 27 runs (all earned) in 34.1 innings pitched (most as a starter—he has one relief appearance). Park has issued 17 walks and struck out only 21 batters. You can see the frustration from Park on the mound when he doesn’t get a call from the umpire behind the plate and you wonder if it is festering in him.

Happ on the other hand has been solid as a long relief type bullpen pitcher. In 12 appearances, Happ has a 2.49 ERA with 17 strike outs.

The young pitcher has done everything asked of him and now the team is giving him a chance to prove himself worthy of a starting job. His first start will come Saturday when the Phillies visit the New York Yankees.

Having Happ in the starter’s role seems like a good move for the time being. He had mild success as a starter while Brett Myers was figuring out his problems in the minors, and stuck with the team for the playoff chase. If nothing else, he should make Phillies fans at least a little bit more comfortable. But what about Park in the bullpen?

“I have to figure out how to prepare to be good with the new job in the bullpen,” Park said. “I have good memories of the bullpen last year [with the Dodgers]. I know it’s not easy. That’s why I don’t like being in the bullpen. But the team expects more from me out of the bullpen. I have to do my best.”
Phillies.com via Todd Zolecki

Call me pessimistic but that quote does not instill confidence in me for Park’s attitude about the bullpen. I guess what he is trying to say is that he has been a starter, and as a starter it must feel awful being forced to go to the bullpen.

It is not an easy transition for many pitchers. Hopefully Park can focus on pitching well for an inning or two rather than worry about an entire game.

When the Phillies signed Park, the logic was that he would be a good fit for the bullpen, despite his desire to start. Starting didn’t work out so well for Park, so perhaps the bullpen will be the best fit after all.

Park is available out of the bullpen starting tonight.

The switch with Happ and Park should serve notice to Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton as well. Both starting pitchers have had struggles of their own. It just so happened that neither of them were suitable candidates to be replaced with Happ at this time. Neither figures to be moved to the bullpen at this stage and neither would be taken off of the roster at this point.

I believe Moyer could be a good fit in the bullpen, though, if the Phillies found a replacement for his spot in the rotation. But it would have to be a no-doubt-about-it replacement for me to even consider it. I am fine giving Moyer time to get things straight, but the concern is growing.

What about Blanton? Numbers wise he is safe. If the Phillies are to make another move to the rotation it appears that it would be most logical to do something with Moyer, who has a higher ERA, fewer innings pitched, more hits and home runs allowed, and seems to have a few more control issues than last season’s trade deadline acquisition.

Now is the time to keep a closer eye on the guys like Carlos Carrasco (0-5, 6.31 ERA) and Kyle Kendrick (2-3, 4.17 ERA) at Lehigh Valley. Neither seem ready to make the jump to save the rotation though, so continue to hope that Moyer and Blanton figure things out. Getting their ERA’s down to five should be the next step.

Follow Macho Row on Twitter!

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...