LOS ANGELES -- Roy Halladay's nearly two-month absence from the mound had a tangible effect on the Phillies' rotation.
"It's elementary, Watson," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Sure enough, the Phillies' rotation went 19-16 with a 3.32 ERA through May 27, when Halladay pitched his last game before landing on the disabled list with a strained right lat. The rotation went 12-19 with a 4.72 ERA since.
"You lose an anchor, a steady anchor," Dubee said. "So now the [No. 2] guy feels like he has to pitch up to a one or a plus-one. The pressure or the expectations on themselves increase. It's like when you move a five hitter to the three- or four-hole. Now all of a sudden he's got to be a bigger piece than what he's had to be."
The Phillies could lose a different anchor before the end of the month if they can't reach an agreement on a contract extension with Cole Hamels and trade him to a contender for a package of prospects. Hamels' agent, John Boggs, told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday they are still waiting for a new offer from the Phillies, although it seems likely the parties have discussed parameters for a deal.
Hamels is looking for more than the five-year, $120 million contract Cliff Lee received from the Phillies in December 2010. It is believed the sticking point is the amount of guaranteed years.
"I try not to think about it," Dubee said about Hamels' potential departure. "What happens, happens. It's a business. If our front office feels that's what we have to do then we move on. Cole has become a very, very good pitcher -- an All-Star pitcher. Three times now. And his future is even brighter in my opinion. I still think his game is elevating. I think it is. Right now his delivery and his stuff is probably as good as it's been all year."
Dubee said he is impressed with the way Hamels has handled the attention. He has been asked about free agency and more recently about a potential trade since Spring Training.
He doesn't seem bothered by the attention.
His numbers back that up. Hamels is 11-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 18 starts.
"It doesn't shock me," Dubee said. "He learned a great deal after the '09 season about how to take care of his own business and live in his own little house, prepare himself to pitch, stay focused to pitch, no matter what went on outside the field or during the game on the field."
Dubee just hopes he continues to see Hamels pitch in a Phillies uniform.