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.
Utley, Howard, Polanco make back-to-back starts
LOS ANGELES -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco in the lineup for consecutive games for the first time this season Monday and Tuesday against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Manuel has been monitoring Utley and Howard closely since they've come back from the disabled list. He also has been watching Polanco, who needs time off his feet to stay productive.
It will be interesting what lineup Manuel uses in Wednesday's series finale. So far Manuel has not played Utley or Howard three days in a row, except when Utley played three consecutive games immediately before the All-Star break.
"I'll do something," Manuel said.
History on Phils' side against Dodgers' Kershaw
LOS ANGELES -- The Phillies face reigning National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday's series finale at Dodger Stadium.
Surprisingly, Kershaw is 0-4 with a 4.95 ERA in seven regular-season starts against the Phillies, although he has a 3.20 ERA in his last three. Including the postseason, Kershaw is 0-5 with a 5.55 ERA in 11 appearances against the Phillies.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel doesn't seem to believe they have Kershaw's number.
"I think it just happens that way," he said. "He usually pitches pretty good. It's not like we jump on him and crush him."
Brown back to work at Triple-A after knee injury
LOS ANGELES -- Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Domonic Brown is back on the field after missing a month with an injured right knee.
He has had trouble staying healthy this season and getting the plate appearances the Phillies want him to have. He is hitting .267 with 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 23 RBIs and a .732 OPS in 48 games with Lehigh Valley. It will be interesting to see how the Phillies handle Brown if they become sellers before the July 31 Trade Deadline. Perhaps they will give Brown a chance to play at the big league level.
"He's going to get a shot," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Will he be given a shot? Yeah."
Manuel couldn't say when, however.
"Not until he's ready," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's got to play. He's doing well, though. He's in a good frame of mind. He's swinging the bat well. He's playing good defense. He's just got to play."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.