Don’t expect Phillies to use any starters on short rest

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Chris Carpenter’s first career short-rest start didn’t go well Sunday in Philadelphia and when asked if he’d ever use a Phillies starter on short rest during the playoffs pitching coach Rich Dubee made it pretty clear that he’s against the idea:

Most real good players at this level get accustomed to a routine. Apparently that was Carpenter’s first whack at it. That’s a strange beast right there. You’re going from your normal side day. Then you’re third day generally you can kick back and relax mentally. The fourth day you get ready to pitch. Now all of a sudden you probably didn’t have a side day and you have shorter rest and shorter preparation time.

That’s about as close to criticizing the opposing manager as someone can come without making headlines and creating bulletin board material. And in terms of potential Tony La Russa nicknames I think “strange beast” is a pretty decent one, accidentally.

Of course, in fairness to La Russa there’s a whole lot less need to use a starter on short rest when you’re pitching coach for a team that has four No. 1 starters. Philadelphia’s rotation is so deep that Roy Oswalt is basically just a spot starter and Vance Worley is in the bullpen, so pushing Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee to pitch on three days rest isn’t really necessary even if Dubee agreed with the strategy.

With that said, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com notes that Dubee has also been true to his word in past seasons when the Phillies weren’t quite as stacked with aces, resisting the urge to use go short rest with Cole Hamels in the 2007 NLDS, Cliff Lee in the 2009 World Series, and Roy Halladay in last year’s playoffs. Things might be different if the choice was between, say, Halladay on short rest or Joe Blanton, but Ruben Amaro Jr. has made sure Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel never have to make that type of call.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.