With Chan Ho Park impressing in yesterday's start against St. Louis, and J.A. Happ continuing to throw well, the Phillies' pitching depth could be tested immediately if Cole Hamels goes on the shelf.
Hamels met with reporters this morning and the lefthander categorized his elbow situation as "discomfort," downplaying concerns as something that happens to him every spring. Nevertheless, the Phillies' are glad to have at least two starting candidates pitching very well this spring in Park and Happ. Park commanded four pitches, including a retooled change-up, to limit St. Louis' regular lineup to just three hits yesterday, lowering his spring ERA to 1.54. Meanwhile, Happ has been equal to the task, earning praise from pitching coach Rich Dubee with his steady approach.
If Hamels is indeed ready for Opening Day, the biggest hole is in the bullpen, where Scott Eyre represents the only sure-handed lefthander, with none of the other candidates making a serious case. The situation may be serious enough to doom Happ to the bullpen anyway, even if Hamels is a no-go for the start of the season. If something like that came to fruition, Park, and possibly Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco or even Drew Carpenter, could still have a chance at this thing if they catch lightening in a bottle late in camp; how many times have we seen jobs won by the hottest hand?
Game chat: Kendrick carries his north-of-14 ERA to the mound today against the Yankees. First pitch is 1:15 p.m.