Pedro, Blanton, Happ heading to 'pen
Two members of trio expected to start Games 3 and 4
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had everything lined up perfectly before last year's National League Division Series.
They had Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer in the rotation. They had Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero in the back of the bullpen. Everybody had a role, and everybody knew their role.
But this postseason looks to be much different. The Phillies announced Tuesday that left-hander Cliff Lee will pitch Wednesday at 2:37 p.m. ET against the Rockies in Game 1 of the NLDS at Citizens Bank Park on TBS and Postseason.TV. Left-hander Cole Hamels will pitch Game 2 on Thursday.
Game 3 on Saturday in Colorado? TBA.
Game 4 on Sunday, if necessary? TBA.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said they will open the postseason with left-hander J.A. Happ and right-handers Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez in the bullpen.
"I could see them pitching late in the game for us," Manuel said of Happ and Blanton.
Happ's and Blanton's abilities to start Games 3 and 4 -- Lee or Hamels would pitch Game 5, if necessary -- could depend on their use in Games 1 and 2. But their presence alone in the bullpen strongly suggests the Phillies have serious concerns about their bullpen.
That is not a surprise. Brad Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and a Major League-leading 11 blown saves. Right-hander Brett Myers and left-hander Scott Eyre have been limited lately because of injuries. Rookie left-hander Antonio Bastardo has pitched just once since June 25. Right-hander Chan Ho Park and left-handers J.C. Romero and Jamie Moyer cannot pitch because of injuries.
"Clearly, we don't have the same situation we had last year, when we went with certain guys in the seventh, eighth and ninth," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That's a pretty open-minded and flexible way to try to manage an issue. That's really the route [Manuel] wanted to take. We talked about it and it makes a lot of sense to put some of our more talented players in situations that could help us win. We've got to try to win games. That's the goal here. It's kind of win at all costs here. It's either you win or you go home. We'll do whatever we can to try to win baseball games, and Charlie thinks this is the best way to do it. And I don't disagree with him."
Asked if using Blanton and Happ in the bullpen in Games 1 and 2 could leave them shorthanded in Games 3 and 4, Amaro said he believes they will have options. It is unclear what Martinez's role might be, although it sounds like he will be on call should Blanton or Happ be unavailable to start Games 3 or 4.
"I think Pedro is the guy who can sit there," Manuel said. "I think he knows how to handle things as much as he's been around. I think that it's very important that we keep him strong and I think when we pitch him, he will be."
It also remains unclear who will be closing.
It could be Ryan Madson. It could be Lidge.
"Hard to tell," Manuel said. "I'll answer that when we get there. Whoever you see walking out there."
And who says it couldn't be Happ or Blanton, if one of them enters the game in the eighth inning and is throwing well?
Blanton has made just five relief appearances in his career -- four in the regular season and one in the 2006 postseason with Oakland. He has started 165 games, including three in last year's playoffs.
"It's about winning," said Blanton, who went 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA. "Whatever happens, happens. That's it."
Happ has much more experience in the bullpen than Blanton, and it looked for the past few weeks that he would be in there because of injuries to Romero and Eyre. Happ started the season in the bullpen, making 12 appearances. He also pitched in relief in last year's postseason.
"This is the playoffs," said Happ, who went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA. "We're going to do whatever we've got to do. I'm not going to make an issue about anything."
Both Blanton and Happ said they don't think there will be an issue with them pitching out of the bullpen. Happ even suggested he could rebound quickly and pitch in Game 3 or 4 if he throws an inning or two in the first two games.
"I think it'll be OK," he said. "I think it'll be something I could handle."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.