Staff in flux with eight to go for Phillies
Injuries may come into play for possible first-round matchup
MILWAUKEE -- Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has been through worse.
The Phillies used a franchise-record 28 pitchers in 2007, when they won the National League East for the first time since 1993. They used everybody from Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels and Kyle Lohse to Anderson Garcia, Yoel Hernandez and Joe Bisenius. They had established big league pitchers like Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia suffer season-ending injuries. They had other veterans like Jose Mesa and Antonio Alfonseca pitch in the Majors for the final time.
J.D. Durbin, Francisco Rosario, Kane Davis, John Ennis, Zack Segovia and Matt Smith all pitched that season.
It was tough, but has 2009 been even more challenging?
"I don't know," Dubee said. "Some days."
The Phillies have eight games to play before the postseason, and their pitching staff is in a state of flux:
Right-hander Pedro Martinez missed Saturday's start because of a stiff neck. It is uncertain when he will pitch next, although he is tentatively scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Astros at Citizens Bank Park.
Left-hander J.C. Romero (strained left forearm) threw an inning on Saturday in the instructional league in Clearwater, Fla. He felt fine. If he feels OK on Sunday, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Romero could be activated on Monday.
Right-hander Brett Myers (strained lat) threw off the mound on Saturday, but just as a test. He said he felt fine. Amaro said Myers could throw a full bullpen session Monday, a day earlier than had been originally scheduled.
Right-hander Chan Ho Park (strained right hamstring) threw about 30 pitches in Clearwater. He also could throw a bullpen Monday.
The uncertainty surrounding those four pitchers, especially the three in the bullpen, would seem to be a concern with the postseason so close.
"Do you see them out in the 'pen available?" Dubee said.
In other words, Dubee isn't worrying about them until they are back.
"We've had guys on the way that got derailed again," Dubee said. "When they get here and they're available in the bullpen, I'll know they're here."
But the Phillies will have some tough decisions to make in the very near future, whether or not they're back. If Romero, Myers and Park are back before the end of the season on Oct. 4, will the Phillies be comfortable enough to put them on the postseason roster? Fortunately, they can replace players if they are hurt in the middle of a postseason series, but the drawback is the injured pitcher then would miss the following series.
Of course, you need to win the first series to get to the next one.
But how many pitchers do the Phillies take? They took 11 last year, but they might need an extra arm this year because of the uncertainty and effectiveness of the arms they currently have. Joe Blanton, Hamels, J.A. Happ, Cliff Lee and Martinez are safe bets to make the postseason roster because they have been effective starters. Four of them will start with the fifth going to the bullpen. Happ seems like a possibility based on Romero's health.
Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Moyer, Myers, Romero, Park and Tyler Walker are in the bullpen mix.
"It's not about hurting feelings or not hurting feelings," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It's about getting the best players. ... I don't think anybody is a slam dunk to be on our playoff roster. Some guys obviously are. But as far as our bullpen is concerned? I don't think anybody in our bullpen necessarily deserves to be a slam dunk."
There simply is too much uncertainty at the moment. The Phillies have eight more games, plus until the 10 a.m. deadline before Game 1 of the NL Division Series to sort it out.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.