Ron Costello

Friday, March 30, 2018

I heard my iPhone 'ding' and I knew trouble was coming. I looked at my phone and it said, "Get rid of this guy."


That's my son Matt texting me about Phillies manager Gabe Kapler lifting starting pitcher Aaron Nola in the top half of the fifth; he threw 68 pitches. Matt is a true Phillies fan; a true Temple-grad Phillies fan which are in a league of their own. If it was up to Matt and his Alpha tau Omega brothers, Temple's BB coach Fran Dunphry — who they call 'one &-DONE-phry; but lately 'NONE & done-phry' — would've been gone five years ago. Ah, maybe eight.

Even Denise, when the Phillies manager strolled to the mound to get Nola, said, "He's pulling him? It's only the fifth." Like the cat just licked the icing off the Easter cake she made.

Good point. But the game has changed. No longer are pitchers expected or allowed to go beyond seven innings. Even so, in a day and age where pitchers are coddled to protect their arms, there are more arm injuries than ever. The Phillies currently have three pitchers on the DL from spring training arm injuries — Jerad Eickhoff, Pat Neshek, and Mark Leiter, Jr. A third pitcher, Tommy Hunter, is on the DL with a strained hamstring.

Fox radio and television critic, Howard Eskin, tweeted,"So many mistakes by @gabekapler. Managers can only lose games in a season. And he lost this one with a brutal, pathetic and disgraceful job of managing. Had 5-0 lead against stinkin #braves and wanted to show people how smart he is and bleeped it up. And takes Hoskins out to boot."

It didn't faze me that Nola was lifted in the fifth. It's the first game of the season. Pitchers just out of spring training, where they are coddled and pampered even more, shouldn't over throw in the first game. Sixty-eight pitches could've been enough for the 24-year-old Nola.

Besides, what's a bullpen for? Six pitchers — Milner, Garcia, Morgan, Ramos, Florimon, and Neris — followed Nola. Only Garcia pitched without surrendering a run.

I didn't see or hear Eskin — or anyone else — complain about a "stinkin" pullpen.

I'm standing by my man Kapler on this one. With a five-run lead in the fifth, a bullpen has to close the door. True, Hunter and Pat Neshek were unavailable. But that doesn't mean the others can't step up.

What if Nola kept pitching and strained his forearm and put on the DL for ten days? We don't know that, of course, but blaming a manager for the failures of his pitchers, in this case, doesn't cut it.

Definetly, somebody dropped the ball and unfortunately it resulted in the first loss of the season.

But it wasn't the manager.

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