Oh, the Problems of a Crowded Staff…

In last night’s 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phillies saw something that had not happened since Steve Carlton relieved Bert Blyleven in 1987: one 200-game winning pitcher relieving another. After his first start at Citizens Bank Park ended because of a 66-minute rain delay, Pedro Martinez was replaced by Jamie Moyer, who was replaced by Pedro in the starting rotation two weeks earlier. In his first relief stint since 1996, Moyer pitched six scoreless innings, giving up only two hits while striking out five, leaving the field to a standing ovation from the fans who had stuck out through the delay.

An outing like this only adds more questions to the already confusing task of sorting out the Phils’ staff.

Here are some things to remember when the questions pop up:

– Pedro has allowed only four runs in his eight innings with the Phillies while maintaining good control on the mound and pitching out of tough spots: exactly what the Phillies were looking for in a fifth starter.

Moyer had nine days between appearances compared to the normal four, which may be even bigger than it looks given his age.

– Despite the leadoff home run to Stephen Drew, Pedro was cruising along until Mother Nature interrupted in the middle of the third inning.

– Charlie Manuel said he would give Pedro a chance in the rotation. Considering his brief time in the minors, it could take four more starts to fully stretch his arm out.

– The Phillies have two doubleheaders against the Mets and Marlins in September, and an extra long-man from the bullpen will be crucial.

The Verdict: Keep things the way they are unless something catastrophic happens. Right now Pedro is pitching well (and hs’s happy) and Moyer can be used for both doubleheaders and as a bullpen-saver. As much as he may feel disappointed and misled, Jamie knows that he will have his opportunities to show he still has what it takes. Plus, if one of the starters goes down with an injury or needs a start off, Jamie knows that Charlie Manuel will look to his veteran lefty to save the day.

The Phillies have a problem. That is, they have too many quality pitchers and not enough spots in the starting rotation. When they think about it, though, Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Charlie Manuel won’t be frustrated; they could very well be smiling all the way through October.

-Tom Hagan ’11

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Filed under Philadelphia Pro Sports, Phillies

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