The Pedro Gamble

Pedro Martinez meets with the media to talk about starting Game 2 of the NLCS. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

If the Phillies had lost Game 1 to the Dodgers, the gamble would have been more obvious, the question neatly crystallized. When Charlie Manuel decided to pitch Pedro Martinez in Game 2 of this series, he was rolling the dice again, in a big way. It will be great drama, a fine show, as Martinez comes home to where he started, to Dodger Stadium, and attempts to shake off a topcoat of rust on the game's biggest stage. And now I guess it isn't such a big deal -- because if it blows up, or he blows up, well, they did already win Game 1.

But logic says this is going to be another bullpen game. How many more can the Phillies hope to survive?

Watching the way Manuel used his bullpen in Game 1, one thing stands out: Scott Eyre. The only true, experienced situational lefty in the bullpen, pitching in pain with a loose body floating around in his elbow, did not pitch. Manuel used a couple of former lefthanded starters, J.A. Happ and Antonio Bastardo, out of the bullpen and never got to Eyre. Maybe it was just strategy. Or maybe the injury is starting to dictate some things.

Another bullpen thing stands out: Ryan Madson is scuffling. He is a supremely important piece of the Phillies' road to the ninth inning, and he is just struggling right now. You wonder who might pitch the eighth inning in Game 2. It could be Joe Blanton -- unless, of course, they have to go get Martinez really quickly.

Oh, and either Happ or Blanton presumeably will start Game 4 -- so the way they are used today should determine that, you would think.

If this comes across as stream of consciousness, that's because it is. Long, ridiculously-tense nights leave you that way, your mind just racing and wondering. Game 1 was such a huge win for the Phillies. If they can get Game 2, with Cliff Lee on the mound for Game 3, they would hold an enormous advantage. But the concerns still nag. If Cole Hamels is going to be a six-inning, four-run pitcher for the rest of October, how is this bullpen going to survive?

It is the question of the series now. And Pedro Martinez, trying to reach back and recapture glory, will provide the next answer.

Continue Reading