Cole Hamels barely beats Lance Lynn to eight wins

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Cole Hamels had the major league lead in victories all to himself for a good 15 minutes or so.

Hamels pitched eight innings and allowed four runs Monday as the Phillies beat the Mets 8-4, moving him to 8-1. Not long afterwards, the Cardinals finished up their 8-2 victory over the Braves, with Lance Lynn improving to 8-1 in the process. Both games started at 1;10 p.m. EDT, but the Phillies wrapped up their victory sooner.

Lynn did turn in the slightly better performance today, allowing two runs in seven innings and matching his season high with eight strikeouts. He has a 2.54 ERA, while Hamels is at 2.43.

Of course, while those two lead the majors in wins, there are 10 starters with better ERAs than Hamels and a few more ahead of Lynn. Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy tops the majors with a 1.77 ERA, but he’s 5-3 in 10 starts. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster is fourth with a 2.14 ERA, yet he’s winless in eight starts on the season.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.