Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Moyer's Bullpen Stint

The Phillies announced the inevitable on Monday, sending Jamie Moyer to the bullpen and adding Pedro Martinez to the starting rotation. After Moyer had another difficult and disappointing start on Sunday, there really was no choice.

It wasn't simply that Moyer's outing was substandard. His 5.0 innings allowing 3 runs wasn't particularly worse than most other appearances this season, but this was against the Florida Marlins. Throughout his career, Moyer has owned the Marlins, with a 13-2 record before Sunday. Their young, free-swinging line-up is ideally suited for Moyer's beguiling assortment of slow and slower pitches. He's mastered this team by taking control of the game and tantalizing the overly eager Marlins.

Sunday, he didn't. So, after surrendering 11 hits to a team he's previously mastered, Moyer also surrendered his slot in the rotation. Of course, no one should shed any tears for Moyer. His career has been filled with far more trying times than pitching out of the defending world champions bullpen.

And there's no guarantee that this situation will last. Martinez has looked good in his minor league rehab starts, but they were, after all, minor league teams he faced. There's no way of projecting what this former Cy Young winner will bring to the mound Wednesday night in Chicago. Should he falter or re-injure himself, Moyer could easily fin himself making another start in just a few days. In addition, no one can have watched this season's Phillies team without realizing how tenuous a strating rotation is in baseball.

Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Brett Myers, Chan Ho Park, Cliff Lee, Andrew Carpenter, Antonio Bastardo, Rodrigo Lopez, JA Happ, Jamie Moyer, and (now) Pedro Martinez have started for the Phillies this season. That's eleven starting pitchers, and counting.

Although the Phillies would love to have a nice, tidy roation of five reliable starters they can pencil in on a regular basis, that has eluded them so far this season.

With no game yesterday, the team got a rest after an embarrassing weekend sweep by the visting Marlins cut their lead in the NL East to 4 games (3.5 after Florida beat Houston on Monday). Of course, that's the most important point.

Despite a sweep by the suddenly resurgent Marlins, despite a rotation that appears to be held together with scotch tape, and despite the circus-like atmosphere surrounding Martinez's arrival and Moyer's momentary shift to the 'pen, the Phillies remain in first place with a solid chance at the playoffs, and beginning on Tuesday in Chicago, they're now trotting out a rotation featuring two past Cy Young winners, one former World Series MVP, and a serious Rookie of the Year candidate.

Yeah, Jamie will be just fine.

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