As has been the case in the majority of the Phillies 19 games this season, there was an obvious story line that commanded the majority of the game story that ran in today's Daily News. That story line was Cole Hamels. Therefore, I will not spend too much time in this post rehashing what by now is old news. We'll fill you in on more details later this afternoon as they become available. For now, though, I wanted to spend some time talking about a guy who should have gotten a lot more press today but did not, thanks to Hamels' injury and Chase Utley's two-home-run performance.
That man would be Chad Durbin, who single-handedly kept the Phillies from reaching Code Red status in their bullpen. When Durbin took over for Hamels in the fifth inning, it looked like desperate times for the Phillies' relief corps. The unit had just pitched 4 2/3 innings in a win over Washington the night before and was competing short-handed due to Brad Lidge's battle with inflammation in his knee. If Durbin had struggled, there is no telling what might have happened. The Phillies probably could have gotten through last night's game, thanks to the big lead they enjoyed. But they might have faced a real quandary today.
Durbin, however, was magnificent, allowing one run and one hit -- both on an Adam Dunn home run that was the longest I have seen at Citizens Bank Park during my year-plus on the beat -- in 3 2/3 innings while taking the game through the eighth inning. That enabled every other reliever other than Clay Condrey to get a day off. Charlie Manuel said it was Durbin's most impressive outing of the season, and I don't think anyone can argue with him.
Phillies relievers have thrown 68 1/3 innings this season, third most in the National League and sixth most in baseball. They have averaged 3 2/3 innings per game, which is the highest figure in the National League.
The Phillies are fortunate that they have the rubber-armed Brett Myers on the mound tonight. He is the only Phillies pitcher who has thrown at least six innings in each of his games. But thanks to Durbin's performance, Manuel might not need Myers to throw seven or eight innings to save the bullpen. Certainly, a short outing would be tough to handle. But as long as Myers throws six or even five innings, the Phillies should be OK. Lefthander J.A. Happ, who is capable of throwing multiple innings, has thrown just one inning in the last two days. Lefthander Jack Taschner should also be good for an inning or two. Ryan Madson will be saved for the ninth inning. Lefthander Scott Eyre, who struggled two nights ago but did not pitch last night, should also be available.
With an off day tomorrow, the Phillies have a situation tonight that is manageable, if not rosy. Is it the best case scenario? Of course not. But it's a lot better than the one they would have faced had Durbin only been able to throw an inning last night.