Right move for Phillies would have been six-man rotation

Updated: August 3, 2009

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Pedro Martinez's arrival means Jamie Moyer -- and his 5.47 ERA -- are headed to the bullpen.

The Phillies have some question marks with their rotation; they have plenty of answers available, as well. With Pedro Martinez set to join the big league club Wednesday, everyone was wondering how he would fit into the rotation, whose place he would take. The answer came Monday, when the team announced Martinez would make his first start with the Phillies on Wednesday against the Cubs (ESPN/ESPN360.com, 8 p.m. ET).

Here's how I see things: Their schedule is pretty much unrelenting the rest of the way. I think they'll need both J.A. Happ -- who was a possibility to lose his rotation spot when Martinez was ready -- and Pedro ready to take the ball. Starting Tuesday, the Phillies play six days in a row, have one off day on the 17th , and then they play for 13 days straight. That takes them into September, when they end the season with 34 games in 34 days, including two off days and two doubleheaders. So here's a better idea than shipping Moyer to the bullpen.

When you consider that schedule, I think they'd be wise to consider a six-man rotation for a while. Another thing to consider is that the bulk of this staff pitched through October last season and those arms have additional stress on them as they make this postseason push. A six-man rotation would give them some additional rest. It would help them in other ways, too. They wouldn't be forced to pull Happ or, just yet, Moyer. Happ could end up starting for them in the postseason. If that's the case, they'll want him sharp but still fresh. He's approaching his career high for innings pitched -- he's at 115 entering Tuesday's start against the Cubs; the most he's thrown was 160 three years ago in the minors -- and they'd like to have him in shape to go well into the postseason. You are probably only saving him one or two starts over the rest of the regular season with a six-man rotation, but sometimes that could be the difference.

The main worry about going to a six-man rotation is messing with the rhythm of the guys who like to get back out on the mound. But with their schedule, it's a little less of a concern. Who's to say that once all these guys get a turn or two that one of them isn't going to shake out of the rotation because of an injury? They could go two times through the rotation and the decision could be made for them.

Pedro was dominant in his final minor league rehab start, striking out 11; in his three outings, he was 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA. So it's not like he just went six innings and felt healthy enough to pitch in the big leagues. One thing to keep in mind is that his numbers may be a little bit skewed because he's been so effective with his off-speed stuff, which is typically one of the first things that minor leaguers have trouble with. Still, from what I've been hearing, the radar readings are very good and his breaking ball has been sharp. So we will see.

Looking ahead to the postseason, you have to wonder what the Phillies' rotation will look like. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are givens, but beyond that, it's up for grabs. Could Pedro or Happ bump Joe Blanton out of the mix? It's possible. It's hard to imagine Moyer in the postseason rotation since he's out now. So if they hope Pedro has a chance to contribute in the playoffs, they will want to get a good look at him in August and September to see what he has, rather than wait for September and October. They also realize that they have a ways to go until they clinch a playoff spot, and they will want to have all six guys good to go when those doubleheaders roll around next month. They could very well need all the wins they can get.

Ultimately their goal is to put the best guy on the hill as often a possible. If I were the Phillies, I'd try going at least one time through the rotation with six starters and see what they have.

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Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
Aaron Hill, TOR27MitreTop 3: 2-1, 2 Outs. None on.
Jason Bay, BOS22NiBot 5: 2-2, 1 Out. None on.
Troy Tulowitzki, COL21GorzelannyBot 1: 2-1, 2 Outs. 1 on.
Robinson Cano, NYY17RzepczynskiBot 4: 0-1, 0 Outs. None on.
Clint Barmes, COL16GorzelannyBot 2: 1-2, 1 Out. None on.

The complete list of Monday's homers


Tigers at Red Sox, 7 p.m. ET

Junichi Tazawa's major league debut did not go well; he pitched 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Friday and gave up a two-run, game-winning walk-off homer to Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the 15th inning at Yankee Stadium. That was out of the bullpen; this time, he'll be starting. Rick Porcello had a brief outing against the Red Sox earlier this year, lasting 4 1/3 innings (eight hits, three runs) in suffering the loss at home.

Rays at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Two pitchers each team needs to figure things out as the final month of the pennant chase approaches -- David Price and Ervin Santana -- meet. Price has been promising lately, winning his past two starts. Santana has won three of his past four decisions, but his ERA has gone from 6.70 to 7.20 over that stretch.

Dodgers at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET

Joe Martinez pitched well in his first start upon returning from the 60-day disabled list by beating the Astros on Tuesday. Randy Wolf has been solid on the road, posting a 3.04 ERA in 12 starts away from home.

For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.



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Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Eric Young, Peter Gammons
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Analysts: John Kruk, Eric Young, Peter Gammons



Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at the exploits of Troy Tulowitzki, who hit for the cycle in a 5-for-5, seven-RBI day in an 11-5 thumping of the Cubs:

Cycles by shortstop (since 2006)
Troy Tulowitzki 2009
Stephen Drew 2008
Cristian Guzman 2008
Carlos Guillen 2006
Jose Reyes 2006

From 2002 through 2005, no shortstop posted a cycle.



Troy Tulowitzki• Well, this is easy. Troy Tulowitzki became the sixth player in the majors with a cycle this season, going 5-for-5 with seven RBIs against the Cubs. And get this: Tulowitzki had a grand slam reversed after umpires took a look at it on replay.
Jeremy GuthrieJeremy Guthrie would probably like to just forget the past couple of weeks. He gave up 11 hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-1 loss against Oakland, making it four consecutive losses for the Orioles right-hander. Opponents are now hitting .277 against him this season.


Washington has won eight straight entering Tuesday's matchup at Atlanta. The Braves might not want to feed the Nats fastballs.

During their streak, the Nationals are hitting .373 against the fastball (compared to just .250 against all other pitches combined). Six players for the Nationals are hitting better than .400 against the fastball during the win streak (minimum 10 at-bats).

Highest BA vs. fastball during eight-game winning streak
Ryan Zimmerman .692 9-13
Cristian Guzman .573 9-16
Elijah Dukes .500 7-14
Josh Willingham .467 7-15
Adam Dunn .462 6-13
Ronnie Belliard .400 4-10

-- ESPN Stats & Information


Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Tuesday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes