Coming off a near-masterpiece, left-hander Cole Hamels returns to the mound tonight when the Phillies pay visit to Scott Olsen and the Marlins. The Phillies welcome Ryan Madson back to the bullpen.
Preview: Hamels (6-1, 3.30 ERA) took a perfect game into the seventh inning in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Milwaukee. The 23-year-old left-hander is the subject of an excellent offering from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, who reveals that Hamels is getting misses on 37 percent of his change-ups. Hamels and the starters have turned in 11 quality starts in their last 14 games and have pitched at least 6.0 innings in 14 of their last 16. The Marlins send another rising left-hander to the mound in the form of Scott Olsen (3-3, 4.80 ERA). Olsen allowed three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings Wednesday in a no-decision against Pittsburgh. Florida swept Tampa Bay over the weekend and trail the Phillies by one game. The Phillies will see the return of Ryan Madson to the bullpen. Before going on the disabled list with a strained oblique, the right-hander had allowed only two runs in his last 12-plus innings of work.
Myers featured: Hamels wasn’t the only Phillies pitcher earning high-profile attention today. New closer Brett Myers is featured by the New York Times, discussing his remaking both on and off the field . Here’s a sampling:
When Myers learned that he might join the bullpen, he sought advice from the Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter. They were introduced by a mutual acquaintance and spent hours talking about the nuances of the job.
"We didn’t really talk about how to get guys out," Myers said. "It was more about how he went about things." He said Sutter’s best advice was about attitude: "Don’t ever be a wimp and tell them that you can’t pitch, even after you’ve pitched three days in a row."
Drawing comparisons to the great firemen of the 70s and 80s, the rubber-armed closer is starting to be seen as a throwback to a bygone era of relief pitching that Sutter represents. Beerleaguer first introduced the "relief ace" topic on April 30 and since then Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has shown few signs of limiting his closer to traditional three-out save situations. Manuel has acknowledged that Myers could be called on to notch four-five-six outs due to his background as a starter, but has been careful not to overuse him and is trying to get him acclimated to relief slowly.
On the flip side, the dropoff in talent between Myers and the rest of the bullpen is cavernous, and lately the 26-year-old right-hander has been the only reliever they can trust. Since moving to the pen, Myers has registered an 0.87 ERA and has converted six saves in seven chances. Today, Myers’ responded to concerns that he’s being pitched too much.
"I'm a little sick of answering those questions," Myers said. "I can do it. My arm bounces back. It's fine."