First off, sorry for the week-long hiatus.
While my excuses may be valid (21st birthday, flu, bronchitis), I will make a consistent effort to post more on a regular basis.
Now on to the good stuff.
The Phillies magic number is still at SIX. That means that with six more combinations of a Phillies win OR a Braves loss, the Phillies will capture their third straight NL East regular season crown.
With that said, it would take a New York Mets like collapse (2007) for the Phillies to blow the division at this point. So for right now, I am going to assume that the Phillies can play .500 baseball for the next two weeks and win the division with room to spare.
Honestly, the Phillies have to worry about getting their arms healthy as much as they do about clinching at this point. Here is a list of names of the walking wounded for the Phillies pitching staff right now.
J.A Happ (Oblique Strain), Pedro Martinez (Stiff Neck), Brett Myers (Shoulder-Hip), J.C Romero (Forearm), Chan Ho Park (Hamstring), Scott Eyre (Elbow).
See what I mean..
While, fortunately, these injuries haven’t been to a Utley, Howard, Hamels, or Lee, they still for pose obstacles when formulating the playoff roster.
For example, the Phillies do not have a healthy left-handed relief pitcher right now with playoff experience (Jamie Moyer and J.A Happ are considered starting pitchers). If J.C Romero and Scott Eyre have difficult getting healthy before October, the Phillies might be forced to put Happ in the bullpen for the second consecutive post-season to give a left-handed relief pitching presence.
This is where it gets a little tricky.
What happens to J.A Happ if Pedro Martinez’s neck issues become a consistent problem? For what is being reported, the Martinez injury isn’t that serious, so hopefully it isn’t an issue. But if (and note I say if) Pedro’s middle-aged body fails on him, Happ would have to be used as the 4th starter in the playoffs, only leaving Jamie Moyer and Sergio Escalona as the two left-handed arms in the bullpen if Romero and Eyre are unable to go.
Not much depth there.
Also, with the injuries to Chan Ho Park and Brett Myers, who is going to take the role of the main right-handed middle reliever when October rolls around? Do the Phillies take a chance with the combination of Chad Durbin, Tyler Walker and/or Kyle Kendrick, and leave both Park and Myers off the playoff roster?
To simplify this tough playoff roster equation, I took a look into my crystal ball, and here is what I think is going to happen.
1. Myers will be healthy enough for the playoffs while Chan Ho Park won’t. Myers, Tyler Walker and Chad Durbin will take over Park’s role as the long reliever , and they will join Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge as the righties in the bullpen. Clay Condrey or Kyle Kendrick may be added to the playoff roster for insurance with the injury concerns.
2. Eyre and Romero both get healthy in time for the playoffs. Phillies go into the playoff with four lefties in the bullpen. Eyre and Romero for short relief, Moyer and Happ for long relief.
3. Since I said that Happ will be in the bullpen for long-relief, that means that I believe that Pedro Martinez will be healthy enough to be put on the playoff roster. With the way Martinez has pitched in his stint with the Phillies, you cannot leave him off the playoff rotation. He gives Philadelphia a confidence and a veteran presence that no one else on the Phillies pitching staff. Not only that, Martinez over Happ gives the Phillies an even balance in the starting rotation (two righties and two lefties).
4. The order of the starting rotation will depend on if the Phillies have home-field for the first round of the playoffs. If they do, Cole Hamels will start game 1, followed by Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee and Martinez. If they don’t, Lee will start game 1, followed by Blanton, Hamels, and Martinez. This will be done to allow Cole Hamels to pitch at home, as his E.R.A this season is almost 2 points less at home than it is on the road.
5. Lidge is the closer going into the playoffs. Plain and simple.
Hope that cleared everything up.
If that didn’t, what goes down in the next two weeks will undoubtably do that whether we like it or not.