Over the last couple of days, Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg took a lot of heat for taking out Cole Hamels in his first start of the year.
Sandberg, though, was absolutely right to do so. When talking about a No. 2 starter coming off a tired arm, precaution is the prescription for long-term health. Hamels threw 86 pitches in his six-inning debut and Sandberg pulled him even though the Phillies were still in the game, trailing 3-2. Even though Sandberg knew his bullpen was porous and Hamels said he could have gone another inning, the manager was right because the Phillies need Hamels over the next five months more than that one inning. If one more inning jeopardized that, it would have not been worth it.
Even though the Phillies lost the game, 5-2, to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Hamels was not happy, the point of Hamels staying in the game was moot because the Phillies’ offense could not muster any additional runs. Of course, Sandberg could not have known that at the time, but a baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint.
Right now, Hamels’ arm is fine and adding 20 or 30 extra pitches was not worth the risk. Hamels will start on Tuesday at home against the New York Mets and Sandberg says he’s likely to extend Hamels if the lefty pitches well again. Hamels’ fastball averaged 91.4 mph and that’s a good sign because it’s the best velocity he’s had since 2012.
Sandberg wanted to keep it that way and, for that, he made the right call.