You've done it, Jake Diekman my boy, you've made it to the playoffs in your 28th year. Bet you didn't see this coming when you were part of a different franchise, hurling for the IronPigs at 26 and watching Delmon Young get picked off second while beckoning at a cartoon bird only he can see.
But here you are, hastily evacuated from Philadelphia and sent to the furthest thing from a divisional rival. On Friday you struggled to keep yourself from hitting triple digits, throwing three pitches at 100 m.p.h., your easiest pitch coming in at a whimsical 98 m.p.h. You retired the side on 16 pitches in two innings combined.
You haven't been in the post season for too long, but the reviews are in.
Two more perfect innings for Jake Diekman. He's retired all 12 batters he's faced in the first two games.— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) October 9, 2015
Jake Diekman just pitched 2 innings for the second day in a row. Only 2 RPs had done that in the last 10 regular seasons.— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) October 9, 2015
Not bad, for a giant anthropomorphic penis pitching against the team with the highest OPS (.797) in the regular season, by a lot. It wasn't too long ago that he was sent down to the minors to work things out, something that the Dallas Morning News credits with his success this post season. Clearly, Cole Hamels is horrified.
"After he got sent down, he grinded his way back and ever since has been here with a vengeance," Hamels said. "He's one of the most talented left-handers that I've seen, with the stuff he has and how funky his delivery is. He definitely stops guys in their tracks."
Apparently a man named Gorman Heimueller works for the Phillies, and he pulled Diekman into a shadowy corridor one day to inform him that his natural ability wouldn't be enough if he didn't change his arm slot. So he did. And the next thing he knew, he was the second hardest-throwing lefty behind Aroldis Chapman.
Diekman joins a legion of players who, upon leaving the Phillies, become known as anything close to reliable as if glad to be rid of the team, something that has twisted the perception of people in the area that there somehow exists an agreement among players to improve after being erased from the Phillies roster. It also tends to retroactively change their understanding of things that have already happened.
Diekman's performance post-trade - succeeding, being credited as a playoff team's solid back-end, being celebrated for his off-the-field work - pretty much locks up the top result for a traded Phillies reliever in 2015. Chase Utley, on the other hand, is reintroducing the country to the fact that he was voted the second meanest player in baseball in 2011, behind only A.J. Pierzynski. Yes, think back and you'll remember that Sports Illustrated actually turned that question into a poll.
Utley reminded everyone of his quietly aggressive style of play that sometimes makes him look like a jerk to the untrained eye. Some journalists refer to this as "old school." Things like home plate collisions and the take-out slide Utley performed on Ruben Tejada last night in Game Two of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS are in this territory, so Pete Rose was probably out of his seat and applauding in FOX studios while Twitter people tried to catch their breath from gasping.
The problem with this being that Utley's slide wound up costing Tejada his leg, which fractured on the way back down from trying unsuccessfully to avoid Utley as he fired himself toward Tejada's lower body like a flesh rocket. ESPN's David Schoenfield didn't like it. Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury news began digging up past examples.
Utley slide from a month ago pic.twitter.com/k8hoUUpq5g— Mike Rosenberg (@RosenbergMerc) October 11, 2015
Utley taking out Tejada with a slide ... in 2010 pic.twitter.com/2xjF2wCWbz— Mike Rosenberg (@RosenbergMerc) October 11, 2015
"Hard nosed" is another way this is sometimes describes, which is good news for Utley, who took a bash to the face for his decision but managed to hang onto his nose.
Utley said he felt terrible and he had "no intent to hurt anyone," which is better than steely silence. But this is honestly the way we've seen Utley play before, which the rest of the baseball world seems to have forgotten as he slipped off the National League All-Star roster. But, Utley would probably ride a horse into second base if the rules of baseball had a gray area about equine involvement on the bases, and now the rest of country is probably recalling this about him and can have an entirely productive debate full of really effective responses.
With Papelbon's actions before the regular season had ended, Jake Diekman's dominance, and Chase Utley's strategically questionable tactics, ex-Phillies have really made a name for themselves after being traded this season. Just think, if Ruben Amaro hadn't become so active on the trade market, Bryce Harper would still have a throat, the Rangers' bullpen could be depending on less reliable arms, and the Mets wouldn't be missing a shortstop.
Which really makes you wonder when people will finally start blaming Ruben Amaro for all of this.