LOS ANGELES - The Phillies have quickly established a pattern this postseason of revealing their starting rotation one piece at a time, and it appears they will do the same in the National League Championship Series.
Manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that Cliff Lee would start Game 3 on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, while J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton remained at least temporarily in the bullpen. Pedro Martinez starts today.
Beyond that, Manuel's plans remained unclear. "The reason we haven't gotten any farther than that is because we don't know how we're going to use Blanton or Happ yet, as far as the situations that come up in the game," he said.
Depending on who is still available after the first two games, the Game 4 assignment would go to Blanton or Happ.
Lee dominated in two division series starts against Colorado, allowing 11 hits and two earned runs in 161/3 innings. "It's going to be exciting," he said of pitching at home in the NLCS. "It's only a step along the way of what we want to do, but it will be fun."
By adding Eric Bruntlett and Chan Ho Park to the NLCS roster and omitting Kyle Kendrick and Brett Myers, the Phils decided to use 11 pitchers for the series, one fewer than in the division series. Manuel said that in the previous series, he felt shorthanded on the bench. The three scheduled days off in this series will allow relief pitchers time to rest and recover from game action.
"We got Chan Ho Park back," Manuel said. "We've got the game pretty much covered as far as distance. I felt like we could go with 11 pitchers because we definitely need another position player."
The manager pointed to the ninth inning of Game 4 in Denver as the moment when he realized that he needed another position player. Greg Dobbs pinch-hit for Ben Francisco in the top of the ninth, forcing Manuel to use infielder Miguel Cairo in left field with a one-run lead in the bottom of the inning.
Manuel said yesterday that because Dobbs' calf injury has not totally healed, he was not available to play the outfield, although he could see action in the infield.
Bruntlett can play all infield and outfield positions, and pinch-run. (Without Bruntlett, the Phils were forced to use Lee as a pinch-runner in Game 2 of the division series.)
"Bruntlett can do a variety of things," said general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. "His versatility can play big for us."
Park specialized in multi-inning outings for much of the season, but Amaro said that he might be limited to one inning at a time during this series. The righthander has not pitched since he injured his hamstring on Sept. 16.
"He's probably best suited to go maybe one inning," Amaro said. "A lot of it depends on how he feels once he gets on the mound."