Four players (Cole Hamels, Domonic Brown, David Buchanan, and Kyle Kendrick) have publicly criticized and/or disrespected Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg this month, but the skipper in his first full season insists it’s “not a big deal.”
In particular Sandberg tried to downplay Hamels leaving the mound before the manager got there to remove him during Tuesday’s game and then giving non-answers to reporters about the removal after 84 pitches, telling Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
You know what, I gave him a verbal when I was about six feet from the grass, “Hey, we’re going to pick you up right here, Cole. Nice job.” So he thought that that was the release to let him go. I just clarified that with him. He was upset about the home run.
However, according to Salisbury “a person with knowledge of the situation said Sandberg was ticked off by what Hamels did.”
Philadelphia’s roster has a lot of veteran players who experienced a whole lot of success with the previous manager, Charlie Manuel, so being in last place with a near-rookie manager in a recipe for issues. That doesn’t preclude Sandberg from making things worse with his actions, of course, and at some point having near-daily meetings with players about their disrespecting the manager will be tough to brush off.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.