The Phillies so far this season have a game of musical chairs going with the pitching staff. Brad Lidge, JC Romero, and Joe Blanton all started the season on the DL. Kyle Kendrick who had been demoted to the bullpen, got promoted back to the rotation. Andrew Carpenter went from Opening Day starter for Lehigh Valley to bullpen for Philadelphia. Nelson Figueroa was released by the Mets, then signed by the Phillies and sent to bullpen. As a result, Andrew Carpenter was sent back down to AAA Lehigh Valley. As Romero comes off the DL, JA Happ goes on the DL. Romero to the pen and Figueroa to the rotation.
Get all that? Phillies pitchers have been bouncing all over the place like human pinballs. Within a couple of weeks, both Lidge and Blanton should be coming off the DL. It is very possible that Happ is ready to come off at the same time. So some big decisions are going to have to be made soon. Once Happ and Blanton are back with the club, Kendrick will probably be optioned to AAA to resume as a starter. Figueroa may be DFA’d depending on his play.
The person who is benefitting from this all? Rule 5 Draft pick David Herndon. Herndon has gotten into some games here and there in basically a mop up capacity. His overall numbers do not tell the whole story in the least bit. Outside of the Marlins game in which he gave up 4 earned runs, Herndon has done a good job. Only one hit in that game was hit hard. Everything else were balls beaten into the ground for infield singles. He will have to continue to do a good job to have a chance to beat out Kendrick, Contreras, Bastardo, and Figueroa. Luckily, Kendrick and Bastardo can be sent down to the minors. Figueroa may just be DFA’d unless he has a spectacular game on the mound AND at the plate against Arizona.this weekend. Based on what we have seen so far, I think that Herndon has a good chance to stay in the bullpen.
The Phillies took yet another blow to a thin area of their roster. Joe Blanton was placed on the DL with a strained left oblique, which means he is out 3 to 6 weeks. That move also effects the bullpen. Most likely to replace him is the loser in the fifth starter role, Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick who had an impressive ERA, but not so impressive peripheral numbers, was designated to the bullpen. That hurts the pen more because we learned that Lidge had to get a cortisone shot in the outer half of his pitching elbow.
The Phillies are down playing the whole cortisone shot saying that it is nothing to worry about, but one has to think about how secure the Phillies should be with Madson, Baez, and ? to close out their games. Do they stick Mathieson into a similar role and see how well he performs? Do you approach a guy like John Smoltz to see if he would be interested in closing. Smoltz would probably need about a month or so to get into shape. We should hopefully see Lidge saving games by that point.
As far as Blanton’s oblique, how serious of a strain is it? Is it a mild case like Happ had last season where he missed two starts or is it more serious like Clay Condrey’s. Condrey missed about a third of the season due to his oblique issue. The biggest problem is that the Phillies have very little valuable depth at starting pitching as it is. Having to sign Josh Fogg to a MiLB deal yesterday just to fill out the rotation in Lehigh Valley.
I would sitll inquire into Pedro Martinez to see how he is doing. Check in on Noah Lowry. Check the scrap heap. There will be a bunch of guys out of a job in the next week or so.