Monday, June 15, 2009

Who Pitches Game 2?

A three game series is a small microcosm of the full 162 game season- so normally one must be guarded, unwilling to pull out lessons based on a single weekend of games. Sure, those games were versus the Red Sox, and as Philadelphia and Boston are a not altogether crazy pick to meet again in- what?- November (ed. note true! true!), the seriesconsequently is prone to overanalysis.

Fortunately, the teams got together and really proved nothing. Both sides blew each other out once- and the only close game late went into the thirteenth inning to decide. The Red Sox got the extra win but not much more. Neither Boston nor Philadelphia made up ground or lost ground to its New York pursuer. Both teams are probably glad not to see the other any more.

The only thing I took out of the series was the obvious. If they are serious, the Phillies need another quality starting pitcher. They might have periods against second division teams and the entire NL East when they can by with Bastardo, Happ and Moyer- but these thumping teams will expose that crew right quick.

I’m a merely modest Cole Hamels’ fan- but the difference between me and most of Philadelphia is that I think he is an average, not great, top of the rotation starter. I'm just not sold on him as one of the top six starting pitchers in baseball- he is somewhrere in the next teir. Regardless, he is still as top, number one starter. From Happ and Moyer you can cobble you .500-ish back of the rotation options. And now the Blanton seems to be getting his act together, he slides into that three spot.

But that number two spot is a mystery. Who would you pitch in a post-season Game 2? This was a season long problem last year too- and we all approached all three Game 2 situations in last year’s play-offs with utter curiosity about what we would get from Brett Myers.

So the Phillies need to get someone in here. As long as they are four games ahead of the New York Mets, they need not panic. They can allow Rollins to kill the club leading off, etc. trying to build success stories for the last fifty regular games and potential post-season.

But they do need to make an addition. First, this team is designed to win now- not 2012- so guys who are destined to play here after next year have to go now to bring someone in here today. I’d like Zach Duke myself; they should have tried to pry him loose on the cheap in the off-season. Second, a four game lead over the Mets, and six over the Braves, feels like a lot- but it isn’t. Yes, the number one thing keeping the Mets around is the dearth of schedule; four games out now projects out to a comfortable ten or so over the season. But it is what it is- the Phillies can bury this out fit right here, right now. An eight game lead means the Mets would need help (i.e. the Phillies would need to play sub-.500 ball for two months). So if an opportunity arises to deliver a kill shot- Philadelphia needs to be aggressive- because four games can be erased right fast. And third, the season still has a hundred games to go- and the Phillies have already exhausted their one in-house option: Happ for Park. They are pitching thin- or rather one rotation problem away form having to panic and overpay. And with this back end rotation crew, they are going to have a pitching crisis.

So if they have to make trade- and now in are a position of moderate strength (don’t need to make a deal now)- the Phillies should look to make it as soon as possible.

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