I've edited this post since yesterday, flushing out some details after watching G-Love kick it at Festival Pier last night. I'm really surprised the Phillies didn't announce their rotation yesterday, but it gives us another day to guesstimate. Here is what I believe to be a logical projection of the rest of the month:
- 8/11 @ Cubs - Cliff Lee: Keep The Phils are reeling right now. You don't want Martinez playing the role of stopper in his first start, and it is easy to rationalize getting J.A. Happ some extra rest given his career-high 127-pitch outing last Wednesday. Plus, this keeps Lee on his fifth day and sets him up for a start in Atlanta, where the Phillies have struggled and the Braves are currently 4.5 games back.
- 8/12 @ Cubs - Pedro Martinez: I'm not real sure about this one. I could see Happ getting the start here on six days rest. I could also see Blanton getting the start here on his normal day. My thinking is that the Phillies will want to keep Martinez as close to his normal day as possible, in order to keep him in his routine. He threw a bullpen Sunday, which would make Wednesday his day to start. But I could see them pushing him back to the opener in Atlanta, where the ball doesn't carry the way it does in the friendly confines.
- 8/13 @ Cubs - Joe Blanton: He gets an extra day off. I think you need Blanton pitching in this series because it keeps him lined up to face the Mets in a couple weeks.
- 8/14 @ Braves - J.A. Happ: Gives him four extra days rest after his 127 pitch outing. It isn't ideal to for him to have this much rest, and the more I think about it, the more I think he'll be starting in Chicago on Wednesday and Pedro will be starting his first game Friday in Atlanta. It just seems like a long time to keep a guy off the mound when he is supposed to be building arm strength and getting used to facing hitters. So I'll stick with the Phillies bumping Happ way back. But again, Pedro here would make a lot of sense -- it would put Happ in the Mets series, and keep Pedro away from his old team.
- 8/15 @ Braves - Cole Hamels: Hamels has said he likes pitching every 5th, but he could use a blow. Watching on television Saturday, I saw an athlete who needs to hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and reset himself. This could help give him an opportunity.
- 8/16 @ Braves - Cliff Lee: Like I said earlier, I think the Phillies need Cliff Lee to pitch this game. The Braves are the team that Phillies fans should be worried about. They have the pitching, and if they can muster any offense at all, they will be a dangerous team down the stretch.
- 8/17 OFF DAY
- 8/18 vs. ARI - Pedro Martinez: Keep the rotation in order. I don't see any benefit to starting Blanton here.
- 8/19 vs. ARI - Joe Blanton
- 8/20 vs. ARI - J.A. Happ
- 8/21 @ NYM - Cole Hamels: Sure, the Mets are 10 games back right now. But anyone who thinks that this definitely will not be a big series is fooling themselves. We've seen four-game sweeps before in this rivalry, and one by the Mets would give New York a huge boost heading into September. Remember the Phils' sweep a couple years ago and what it did for them?
- 8/22 @ NYM - Cliff Lee
- 8/23 @ NYM - Pedro Martinez: Again, this could be J.A. Happ's spot. But Happ allowed four runs in six innings against the Mets earlier this season, so I'm projecting a showdown that will have headline writers in both cities salivating.
- 8/24 @ NYM - Joe Blanton
- 8/25 @ PIT - J.A. Happ
- 8/26 @ PIT - Cole Hamels
- 8/27 @ PIT - Cliff Lee
- 8/28 ATL - Pedro Martinez
- 8/29 ATL - Joe Blanton
- 8/30 - ATL - J.A. Happ
- 8/31 - OFF
This set-up would give Martinez four starts by the end of August. It would give a start against his former team at CitiField. It would put the Phils' three top pitchers in the four-game series against the Mets. And it would put the Phillies in position to set up their rotation as they see fit for September.
The Phils could use the off day on Aug. 31 to do a number of things with the rotation. One of these possibilities would be to re-set it for the stretch run, starting September with a rotation of Cliff Lee, followed by Cole Hamels, followed by Joe Blanton, followed by J.A. Happ. At that point, they would also have enough information on Pedro Martinez to decide whether to leave him the rotation at No. 5, or to revert back to Jamie Moyer. At this point, rosters will have also expanded, so they won't have to worry about burning a roster spot.
Keep in mind there are two doubleheaders in Sept., where they'll need an extra starter.