Opinion: Park Deserves Fifth Starter – Phillies Nation

Opinion: Park Deserves Fifth Starter

Comparison time:

Player A: 20 IP / 7 ER / 18 H / 14 K / 6 BB
Player B: 21.1 IP / 6 ER / 20 H / 25 K / 2 BB

Clearly, we’re talking about JA Happ (A) and Chan Ho Park (B). And Park clearly has the edge over Happ. He deserves the fifth-starter spot on the opening night 25-man roster.

It’s no fault of Happ’s — the 26-year-old lefty has done everything to sustain his position as fifth starter. Any other season Happ would’ve glided into the spot without trouble, but Park has outshone all expectations. A 12.5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio? Sure it’s the Grapefruit League, but you can’t deny his consistent dominance.

Quickly back to Happ. The kid deserves to be a major league starter. He cannot do any more in triple-A. He has the stuff to overpower hitters — a moderate fastball, a strong changeup, a fantastic slider, an average curve. With correct placement and pacing he can go deep into games, maybe registering as a solid third starter. His strikeout rates have always been above-average. Basically, he’s ready. Now, should he then be given the chance to succeed on a major league roster today … with another team?

No. If there’s one necessity early in the season, it’s depth — especially pitching depth. The first sign of injury or underperformance would bring Happ back to the rotation. And once he’s there, he should stay there.

It’s very possible that Happ supplants Park, if he does win the battle. Remember, this is a pitcher who last regularly started in 2006, notching a 4.81 ERA while calling PETCO Park his home base. He only pitched four major league innings in 2007. Frankly, while I think Park should win the fifth-starter battle, he should be watched closely and given a short leash.

But Park’s performance this spring has confirmed he’s worthy of a starting rotation spot again, even against a young firecracker with four average or above-average pitches. Moreover, there’s something to be said about Park’s focus: The man desires above everything to win the fifth-starter battle and take the hill every five days. He desires to give his fellow South Koreans a reason to watch Philadelphia Phillies baseball. He recently struggled to respond about if he’d accept a bullpen role: “Uh, I don’t know. Let’s see. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Sometimes I’m crazy.”

If he’s that determined to seize the role, don’t you think he’ll be as determined to keep it?

Park deserves it. The numbers show it. The fire shows it. Give him the chance.



  1. Jason B.

    March 31, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I think the fact the Park decided to forgo the WBC speaks volumes about this guys commitment to succeding with this ball club. That being said, I think he should be on a very short leash. Additionally, I also feel that putting Happ in the bull pen would also be a mistake. Sending him down to AAA would be the best option in my opinion if only to keep him in the starter mentality. The way Happ pitched this spring shows that he can compete and possibly succeed at the major league level, however, it seems as if Park has more to prove. It’s a tough choice to make, but its a good problem for the Phillies to have.

  2. T Marty

    March 31, 2009 at 8:16 am

    i love that the Phillies have a battle for the 5th starter. i’m not use to it.

  3. Dave Hall

    March 31, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Yes, usually we have nothing at the #4 spot or #5. Are we talking about the same organization?

  4. Tyler

    March 31, 2009 at 8:39 am

    great write-up tim. and i completely agree with all you’ve said.

  5. Ed

    March 31, 2009 at 8:46 am

    They both deserve it…why not just go with a 6 man rotation? Seriously, why not? It won’t happen but it should. Pitchers are so babied these days they would probably welcome it. Hell, you do that and Moyer could pitch until he’s 65. I think Park will win the battle and that is perfectly fine with me. I would hate to see Happ get sent to AAA but I think it has to be done. Asking him to go into the bullpen and be a long inning guy or a stop gap with the possibility of starting if someone gets hurt or pitches poorly is unfair to him. We have this new guy who can be the second lefty and so the need for Happ to be in the pen is not as big as it once was. However, under no circumstances should we trade him. Pitching depth is where it’s at. The Phillies won it all last year by being healthy, that won’t happen again and so we need the arms to call on, we need the reinforcements. Happ can be that guy. He deserves a chance. Especially with Myers possibly not being here next year, Happ could certianly fill that void.

  6. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 9:31 am

    From Jim Salisbury:

    “Pitching plans. Brett Myers pitches tonight against the Blue Jays. The Phillies will bring someone up from minor-league camp to start tomorrow against the Yankees in Tampa. Jamie Moyer and Happ will pitch Thursday. Joe Blanton is scheduled to start Friday’s exhibition in Philadelphia, although he could be bumped if he is named opening-night starter. Cole Hamels pitches Saturday in Philadelphia.”

    my take….I think I’d rather have Blanton pitch the Home Opener than Myers (Myers gets jacked for huge starts like that and can get wild).. OFF ON APRIL 6th. Let Myers go Tuesday, April 7th. Moyer on April 8th. OFF ON APRIL 9th. Hamels on April 10th.

  7. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Yeah you gotta give it to him. If he loses it after a couple starts then you make the move and put Happ in there and Park really wont have anything to say. But for now hes clearly won the competition. 2 walks in all of Spring Training shows me hes got the hot hand now and hes mentally prepared and focused. He opted out of the WBC so that he could make the 5th spot in this rotation and stay there, and so far the extra work he put in has really helped.

  8. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Im surprised they havent announced Myers yet, Ive kind of just assumed hell be the opening night starter. I think you have to let him do it and show that he has come all the way back.

  9. Chutley

    March 31, 2009 at 9:44 am

    I don’t think Park was the clear cut winner, he does have a ton of more strike outs, but i definetly think he’s earned it. Send Happ to AAA,, coming out of the pen won’t help him. Even if he’s a long reliever, coming out of the pen is a different mind set. I just hope that Happ is mature enough to realize that AAA isn’t a punishment.

  10. Chuck P

    March 31, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I agree whole heartedly… I’ve been saying it for a while. Park has demonstrated that he is determined and, most importantly, healthy. He gets the nod early and we ride his arm as long as we can. I do believe that Happ finishes the year in the rotation; someone is going to get injured or flame out. Bouncing between AAA and the majors means that he runs out of options this year but, in my opinion, it won’t matter because he’s a shoe-in next year in the upper half of the rotation (with Myers likely on his way out). He’s going to be a bright star and for trade purposes, I think that he’s a guy you mark as “untouchable.”

  11. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 9:51 am

    What do we think if Happ throws 5 innings of no-hit ball with 8 Ks on Thursday?

    If we’re going just based on Spring Training numbers… both of these guys would be in, Jamie Moyer would probably be the odd man out.

    Do we know that Park can throw 6+ innings? When was the last time he did that? There are more questions than just looking at their Spring Training numbers and saying who’s stats we like more…

  12. Albert

    March 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

    You slammed dunked this one. He deserves the spot, but his leash is short. Very short.

  13. Chutley

    March 31, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Don, You can’t say Moyer is out. He wasn’t competing for a spot, he didn’t have to put up any numbers close to Park or Happ. And if you don’t wanna go by Spring Training numbers what can you look at then?

  14. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 10:00 am

    If we think Myers might be on his way out.. do we think that more if Blanton is named Opening Day Starter? Is that a slap in face for Myers, or is that just rewarding Blanton for getting himself ready to go through Spring Training..

    I looked at Park’s stats from last year.. only 3 times did he throw 5.0 Innings or more, all within a two weeks span:

    June 21st vs. Indians: 5.0 IP, 3 Hits, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 9 Ks
    June 27th vs. Angles: 6.0 IP, 4 Hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks
    July 5th vs. Giants: 6.0 IP, 3 Hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks

    not too shabby

  15. Ed

    March 31, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Just because you are not fighting for a rotation spot doesn’t mean you can put up crappy numbers. Not saying that Moyer should be taken out of the rotation but that a lack of being pushed should not be an excuse for poor performance.

  16. Manny

    March 31, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I agree with Don. Plus, I wouldn’t say Park “clearly” has an edge over Happ based on the ST stats… they are very similar for what they’re worth. What if Happ comes out and pitches really well on Thursday? The Fight for Fifth is not over…

    As of now, sure, Park deserves it and should get it. But if he does get it, I agree with Tim in that he should be on a very short leash. The minute he blows up, Happ should be there in the rotation.

  17. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Park has been very good.. I said yesterday that AS OF YESTERDAY, he would get the nod..

    Im just saying that what if Happ goes out and looks unhittable on Thursday..

    He’s got the more recent experience as a starter.. with a team that likes to reward people that have helped the team win in the past (Kendrick’s LONG leash last season comes to mind)

    Let’s see what Happ does on Thursday.. he might hand the job to Park himself, or he might step up and force the team to make an even tougher decision..

    I don’t know how confident I am in Park throwing the amount of innings we need from a Starting Pitcher.. 5 innings isn’t enough, and he’s only gone as long a 6 Innings TWICE in the past two years (in 2007 he threw a total of 4 innings).. that worries me


    July 6th, 2006 Padres @ PHILLIES : 7.0 IP, 9 Hits, 3 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 6 Ks.. in a 5-3 Saint Diago victory.

  18. Ed

    March 31, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I think you have to allow a guy to have more than one bad outing before you take his spot in the rotation away from him. I would say a string of 3 poor starts in a row would be enough for me to make a change. Every pitcher has a bad game here or there.

  19. dan

    March 31, 2009 at 10:18 am


    Maybe a study on how Happ pitches when Ruiz is the catcher compared to Coste? I think that would be interesting because he has such pitch variety and Ruiz calls better games.

  20. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I think if Myers has a good first half theyll resign him…or at least try to. Moyer hasnt shown me anything at all in Spring training to make me think he will be effective in any way. Hes stretched out to regular season stamina now, but he hasnt done much else. For all we know, the only thing hes ready to do is ive up 5-6 runs over 5-6 innings every time out. If he does that in teh month of april then JA Happ or Carlos Carrasco will replace him by the end of May.

  21. Tim Malcolm

    March 31, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I think at this point no more outings from Happ make a difference. Park did his job. Did it extremely well. He was completely dependent upon winning the battle. I think with yesterday, he showed it.

  22. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Happ started 4 last year:

    July 4th.vs Mets (COSTE catching): 4.2 IP, 3 Hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 0 HR (3.86 ERA) Phillies win 3-2.

    July 9th.vs Cardinals (RUIZ catching): 6.1 IP, 5 Hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5K (3.27 ERA) Phillies win 4-2.

    Sept. 17th. vs Braves (RUIZ catching): 6.0 IP, 3 Hits, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K … this start was following a few bad relief appearance, mostly for Kendrick. PHILLIES win 6-1.

    Sept. 22nd vs. Braves (Ruiz catching): 6.2 IP, 5 Hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR… PHILLIES win 6-2.

  23. Ed

    March 31, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for the stats Don. It doesn’t really tell me much. He was on a short leash for the July 4th game as it was his first start. But if you look at the numbers for what they are, he is pretty consistent no matter who is catching. But clearly Ruiz is the better manager of the pitchers than Coste. Not much of a debate there.

  24. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I just wanted to get back to this to see what people thought…

    Is anyone on here confident that Park can give us the innings that we want from a Starting Pitcher.. does his not throwing a lot of innings help him or hurt him?

  25. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I hope so…but if he cant do that hes gotta go. 5 innings an outing isnt enough (sorry Moyer) over a full season. its bad enough moyer does it, but you cant have two of your 5 starters doing it. one is plenty. you need 6 innings out of at least 4 of your 5 guys per cycle of the rotation because anything less than that takes a heavy toll on the bullpen. You saw what happened last season, the bullpen began to sputter down the stretch until Scott Eyre was brought in to lighten the load on others, then the pen got hot again.

    myers and hamels need 7 innings minimum per start on average, same with blanton. Moyer will go 5-6 and you can only get away with that if park also goes 6. Otherwise, Happ or Carrasco will have to come up and go 6 innings minimum average per start.

    Thats why quality starts is a HUGE stat in my opinion because it sort of shows how a starter who does not put up enough QS (6 innings 3 runs I think) is a BURDEN to his bullpen over such a long season. Obviously we expect Hamels and Myers to do a lot more than just a QS, and we expect more from Blanton too. But Moyer has to turn in a QS everytime out (or almost all the time), and so does Park otherwise BOTH OF THEM will be replaced by Happ/Carrasco by July 1.

  26. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Jamie Moyer went 6.0 Innings or more 21 times last year (Finished the season with a 3.71 ERA).. he can still pitch

  27. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Also, Carlos Carrasco is not close to starting in the majors…

    if he comes up and pitches this year, its because someone got hurt, or we are in real trouble and losing too many games

  28. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Gary Sheffield is coming to Philadelphia!!!!!

    (hopefully.. ) He was just released by the Detroit Tigers.. he’s one HR away from 500, he would become the 25th player to reach that milestone.

    I have to believe he’s better than Matt Stairs for the purposes of a bench bat that can swing for the fences


  29. Phan in TN

    March 31, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I absolutely agree with Mister Malcolm. In fact, I predicted way back in Feb that park would be our 5th. Look on that ning thingy.

  30. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Moyer did do that..last year, and the year before he was atrocious. So which Jamie Moyer will we see? We will find out soon enough.

    Id bring in Sheffield for a mil and jettison stairs…i mean, why not?

  31. ryan

    March 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    i would NEVER want that arrogant cancer Sheffield anywhere near my team.

  32. christopher

    March 31, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    jamie moyer was definitely not “atrocious” in 2007. he won 14 games! he clinched the division and had the best start of anyone against the rockies. his ERA and WHIP were higher than last season, but he still had a good year overall.

  33. Bruce

    March 31, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    For Geoff, a reminder…

    Last season, Moyer led the team in starts (33), innings (199.1) and quality starts (18) and wins (16) . The ageless and crafty veteran can still pitch…slow, slower and slowest with great command. 🙂

  34. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    in 07 he had a bad whip and an era of nearly 5…that is BELOW AVERAGE…..Of those 14 wins moyer also had 12 losses…i consider that a below average season for someone like him…

    in 08 he was outstanding – truly – i didnt forget – but look at his last few years…i mean other than 08 theres nothing to really celebrate. the point is who shows up? they also gave him an above market contract for someone his age…way way way above both in years and in money.

  35. Phil

    March 31, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Bruce, Hamels led in ip(227). Hamels tied him in starts 33. I don’t know how many quality starts Hamels had, but I’d venture to say it was as many or more than Moyer. Wins is a useless stat. Hamels got no run support in so many games he lost last year.

  36. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Since he was paid way way way below value for what he produced last year.. Lets call it even.. he helped us win the World Series, while getting paid peanuts.

    I forget the exact numbers, but I think that Moyer allowed 3 ERs or less in something like 25 of his starts last year.. and I posted earlier that he threw 6.0 IP or more 21 times last year.

    Do I expect the same? No, not at all… but did I expect him to have one of the best season in his long career at age 45 or 46 or whatever. No.

    So he probably won’t be as good this year as he was last year, but he was arguably the 2nd best SP on the WS champs.. so he’s still good in my book

  37. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Well the point is hes a bigger question mark than the average starter…thats all…

    ALSO: DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THEYRE BRINGING BACK THE GRAND SLAM 4 GAME PACKAGES THIS YEAR? I got a few 6 packs already and Im waiting for 4 packs to go on sale…usually its around this time when they start with the 4 packs…

  38. christopher

    March 31, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    ERA and WHIP are a bit misleading for contact hitters like moyer too though, as he often gets better run support BECAUSE he keeps his defense more active, which has their adrenaline pumping when they’re at the plate. you can’t just discount wins, after all they’re the most important thing when all is said and done.

  39. Phil

    March 31, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I do discount wins. A pitcher is not paid to win a ball game. A pitcher is paid to prevent runs so his offense can score runs. It takes a team effort to win a ball game, not a pitcher.

  40. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    ERA & WHIP arent misleading for starters that play an entire season, wins & losses can be misleading – absolutely – but ERA & WHIP (& Quality Starts above all) are the best measures of a starting pitcher. For a relief pitcher you want to look at K/BB & WHIP or ERA too.

  41. Phil

    March 31, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I personally like ERA+ to rate a pitcher more than anything. It shows how well a pitcher’s ERA is compared to the rest of the league and also factors in the ballpark they pitch in. Cole Hamels ERA last season was a 3.09. If you threw him in PETCO park that probably would have been a 2.70. ERA+ helps to show what a ballpark can do for a pitcher.

  42. christopher

    March 31, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    any pitcher will back up what i just said about contact pitching. do you think it’s some crazy coincidence that moyer would get run support last year and hamels wouldn’t? and that kendrick won as many games as he has in his MLB career?

    i agree that wins can be more misleading than ERA and WHIP, but i also maintain that discounting them as a stat is stupid.

  43. christopher

    March 31, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    also i doubt that moyer’s 07 ERA and WHIP were in fact “below average” in terms of the MLB averages for the season. i’d like to see the stats on that.

  44. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Im a big supporter of QS for the majority of the starting pitchers in MLB. A guy with a lot of Quality Starts really gives his team a good chance to win and keeps them in the game. So many analysts always say “he gives you a good chance to win when talking about good starting pitchers” – well tahts what theyre talking about. Can you go deep into games without giving up too many runs along the way – THUS giving your offense a chance to be ahead with what work the pitcher did put it AND not having to put too much stress on your bullpen by only relying on them for two ro three innings. Thats so key to me, tahts what I try and look at. QS is the best measure of that, as is ERA & WHIP. (ERA+ is cool too)

  45. Geoff

    March 31, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    he had an era close to 5 in 07….tahts below average….cant recall whip

  46. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    MLB Players say that ERA is the most accurate reflection of how good a pitcher is..

    The runs that score are your fault..

    A guy could give up 10 runs, but if his team scores 11, he gets the win.. so that is a bad stat. But if the guy give up 10 runs, his ERA will be sky high.. a more accurate reflection of how well/poorly he pitched

  47. Phil

    March 31, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    League average ERA in 07 was 4.61. Moyer had a 5.01. Take ball park into account and his ERA+ is 92. League average ERA+ is 100. Moyer was worse than league average in 07. That is like a #4 or #5 starter. I’d give him the nod as a #4 starter since he did eat some innings. If Moyer can stay around his career stats this season(4.19 ERA, 106 ERA+) then he should be a good #3 or great #4 pitcher for us. If he can put up last years #s then he will be a great #3 pitcher for us.

  48. Phil

    March 31, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Well said Don M. I like to use this one too. If a pitcher pitches 30 games and 270 innings but lets up 1 run a game and has a 0-30 record with a 1.00 ERA does that make him a bad pitcher?

  49. christopher

    March 31, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    ERA i’m not surprised on, but WHIP i think he was 1.44 or so in 07, which there would have had to have been some terrific pitching that year for the average to be lower than that.

  50. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I’m probably one of the most well-said dawgs on this jawn. holla.

  51. Don M

    March 31, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    1.5 Walks Plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) is not really good at all.. that means 9 baserunners in 6 innings..

    Maybe that is the “average” but that sounds like trouble to me

  52. Phil

    March 31, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I don’t know what the league average whip was in 07, but I can bet that it was lower than 1.44 or around 1.44. Moyer has always had a high whip. Many contact pitchers do not named Brandon Webb and Roy Halladay.

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