Charlie Manuel hasn't announced his rotation beyond Cole Hamels in Game 5, but I thought I'd take a moment and lay out the scenario the Phillies are likely to go with for the rest of the NLCS, while also looking ahead to a potential World Series berth. . .
Manuel confirmed today that his plan is to start lefthander Hamels in Game 5 on Wednesday, when he will be on five days rest after allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings of the Phillies' 8-6 victory in Game 1 Thursday. Beyond that, the likely progression will go Lee in Game 6 on Friday, when he will be on normal rest thanks to off days on Tuesday and Thursday. If a seventh game is necessary, righthanders Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton would both be available to start on full rest. Martinez, who pitched seven scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium on Friday, would likely get the start with Blanton and perhaps Hamels, who would be on two days rest, available to pitch in relief. If Lee starts Game 6 on Friday, he would be ready to pitch on his normal day for Game 1 of the World Series on October 28, provided the Phillies advance.
The starter for Game 1 of the World Series holds more importance than in the NLDS and NLCS, thanks to the elimination of the off day between Games 4 and 5. The extra off day during the first two rounds of the playoffs allowed either the Game 1 or Game 2 starter to start in Game 5. But in the World Series, only the Game 1 starter will be on normal rest for Game 5. The Game 2 starter, on the other hand, would not be available to start on full rest until Game 6, which would likely prevent him from being able to contribute as a reliever in an all-hands-on-deck Game 7 the following night. The starter for Games 1 and 5, however, would be on two days rest for Game 7, putting him in a position to contribute as a reliever. Neither Hamels nor Lee has ever started a game on short rest, although both have said they would be able to do so this postseason.
Here is a look at the calendar from today through the World Series:
Sun. Oct. 18 - NLCS Game 3 (Cliff Lee)
Mon. Oct. 19 - Game 4 (Joe Blanton, 8 days rest)
Tue. Oct. 20 - Off
Wed. Oct. 21 - Game 5 (Cole Hamels, Five Days Rest)
Thu. Oct. 22 - Off
Fri. Oct. 23 - Game 6 (Cliff Lee, Four Days rest)
Sat. Oct. 24 - Game 7 (Pedro Martinez, seven days rest; Joe Blanton, four days rest)
Sun. Oct. 25 - Off
Mon. Oct. 26 - Off
Tue. Oct. 27 - Off
Wed. Oct. 28 - W.S. Game 1 (Cliff Lee, Four days rest)
Thu. Oct. 29 - Game 2
Fri. Oct. 30 - Off
Sat. Oct. 31 - Game 3
Sun. Nov. 1 - Game 4
Mon. Nov. 2 - Game 5
Tue. Nov. 3 - Off
Wed. Nov. 4 - Game 6
Thu. Nov. 5 - Game 7