Sam Donnellon: Phillies should start Halladay in Game 4
SAN FRANCISCO - I'll admit it. I tend to panic.
Especially when trying to prevent something.
I'm the guy who makes my kid take out his earphones when skateboarding.
I print out directions in addition to using the navigator.
I set two alarms and arrange a wake-up call when I have an early flight.
I think Roy Halladay should start tonight's Game 4 instead of Joe Blanton, acknowledging all of Rich Dubee's good reasons not to.
"Don't slight this guy," the Phillies' pitching coach said of Blanton, and I don't mean to. Read my stuff over the last few years and you will find in it a fan of Joe: of his fight, his determination, his willingness to take any role given without complaint.
But when you signed Roy Halladay and traded away Cliff Lee last December, you did so, at least in part, with this day in mind. The difference between Lee and Halladay was that one was Sandy Koufax and the other was Bob Gibson.
Bob Gibson pitched three games in the 1967 World Series, won them all. He was the best pitcher in the National League that year, just as Roy Halladay was the best this year.
"We think it's the best way to go," Dubee said after the Phillies lost, 3-0, to the Giants and fell behind two games to one in the National League Championship Series. "Why all of a sudden bump three guys up on short rest? If you pitched Halladay tomorrow, you're either going to determine you have to pitch [Roy] Oswalt and [Cole] Hamels short, or you have to pitch Joe Blanton somewhere."
Here's what I would do:
I would pitch Halladay today, worry about tomorrow afterward. Isn't that the Phillies' mantra? Win today, then worry about tomorrow?
If Halladay does what I think he can do, matched up against 21-year-old rookie Madison Bumgarner, then I give Blanton the Game 5 start tied at 2-2. If the Phillies continue their offensive malaise, I pitch Oswalt on short rest, then Hamels on short rest and have Halladay, at home, for a Game 7.
Dubee: "One, Roy's coming up to a career high in innings pitched.
"Two, Cole's never done it. So there's your downside.
"And any time you move guys up, you're taking them out of a routine that's pretty solid."
A few minutes later, at his locker, Halladay said, "I've prepared normally, but it wouldn't make a big difference. I think you still do the same stuff - just pitch a day earlier."
Someone asked him if he was disappointed not to be getting the chance.
"I'll pitch when they want me to pitch," he said. "That's it, I think. Really, that's the bottom line. Just let them know I'll take the ball whenever they want, and that's it. The rest isn't up to me."
Halladay sounds like a man trapped between being a good teammate and a great competitor. But if he told them he was willing, as he did us, that would be enough for me.
Because as much as I like Joe, Halladay on a bad day is Joe on a good one.
"What's the difference?" asked Dubee.
Halladay gives me the best chance to win today.
"You've got to win four games to win the series," Dubee said. "What's it matter if it's Game 4 or Game 5 he pitches?"
Momentum, I suggested.
"They had momentum after Game 1, didn't they?" said Dubee. "And we won Game 2."
Dubee also pointed out that Blanton has pitched well against the Giants. He beat them in August, lasting into the seventh and getting a ton of run support in an 8-2 victory over Matt Cain. And Blanton finished the season with 13 consecutive starts without a loss, compiling a 6-0 record with a 3.24 earned run average.
Ah, but here's the difference: The Phillies aren't hitting. Not a lick. Then again, they were 1-for-32 with runners in scoring position before Carlos Ruiz' squibber won Game 3 in the 2008 World Series, and the next night they busted loose for 10 runs in support of Blanton.
Maybe they just really like the guy.
It's hard not to. And if it all works out tonight and tomorrow, you can all laugh about my premature panic.
You wouldn't be the first.
Just remember, though: The one clear advantage of the ace they traded for over the ace they traded away is that he was a horse.
A horse who can pitch three games in a postseason series if needed.
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