You have depth in case the need arises to exhaust it. When you slide Zach Eflin or Jake Thompson into a starting role, you don’t think about how unlucky you are that Charlie Morton or Aaron Nola has gone down; you think, "Thank god we have someone other than a soft-tossing space-filler to join the rotation in their stead." You also think, "Damn it, what the hell is happening to all of our pitchers."
Baseball features a long, sad season that chews hungrily away at the human body, so the mounting casualty count of this rotation is not ideal, but also not totally unexpected. With Morton, and Nola, and also Eflin now all on the DL, that organizational pitching depth sure feels handy, if now a little thin. The Phillies may have held onto Jeremy Hellickson because they couldn’t agree on a deal with anyone at the trade deadline, but the benefit of still having him is that he is the only guy on the staff right now who appears able to get batters out or go deep into a game.
Until, you know.
Something is not right with Jeremy Hellickson. He leaves the game after 5 innings and just 71 pitches. Had retired 14 of last 15.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 10, 2016
In the first inning, Hellickson had allowed an Adrian Gonzalez double that scored Josh Reddick and made it 1-0 early on, but it’s true that he was throwing a hell of a game out there, which looked even better in the wake of every other starter walking into a buzz saw over the last week. But the official word came down after his exit in the sixth that Hellickson was suffering from "back tightness," which means god knows what for the future, with god knows who about to take his place.
Gas up the Lehigh Valley Express bus, fellas.
Phils starting rotation in September:— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) August 10, 2016
[Dodger Stadium training room]— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) August 10, 2016
TRAINER: How's it feel
SEAGER: It hurts
AMORPHOUS PILE OF PHILLIES PITCHERS, JUST LYING THERE: Please kill me
While the Phillies front office sprang into action, the offense tried to do the same and mostly failed (good luck, front office!).
Still down 1-0 in the seventh, Freddy Galvis strode to the plate having not hit a home run from the right side in two years. With Carlos Ruiz on second and Jimmy Paredes on first, this was a good time for one, and Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir could only watch from the dugout, having been removed in favor of reliever Grant Dayton, as the two runners he’d allowed on base came trotting home on Galvis’ dinger. The umpires refused to award the Phillies any runs for Taylor Featherston fouling a pitch into a dugout trash can, so the score stayed 3-1.
Elvis Araujo, who’d replaced Hellickson, was swapped out for Edubray Ramos, who K’d a pissed off Joc Pederson before allowing a Howie Kendrick double and a Rob Segedin single to make it a one-run game. Ramos then pushed through the gambit of Justin Turner and Chase Utley - thanks in large part to a sparkling Freddy Galvis defensive play - to get out of the inning, giving way to the offense’s last chance for insurance runs in a game that could see them leave L.A. with their dignity.
You’re going to hear that Ryan Howard came up as a pinch hitter in the top of the ninth and logged only the Phillies’ third hit with RISP in the series in 24 opportunities. And it is my job to tell you that this is a true fact; Howard, after Freddy Galvis had been intentionally walked in front of him, indeed laced a double to right field with the bases loaded, scoring the day’s rally-starter Ruiz, as well as Odubel Herrera and Galvis, and giving Jeanmar Gomez a 6-2 lead to defend in the bottom of the ninth.
It was an appropriate send-off from Howard, playing for the last time in front of Vin Scully, who hates him.
Gomez kept the Dodgers back, despite a lead-off single in the ninth, and in the end it came down to Chase Utley at the plate with two outs (Utley plays for the Dodgers now, remember). Utley worked a walk, so it was Josh Reddick who grounded out to end things.
See you next week, Chase.