The post-season roster has not been set for the Phillies; they have until 10am tomorrow to make the final decision. The central core is not in question, with 6 current and former All-Stars in starting roles. However, the pitching rotation, bullpen and bench players are going to be tough decisions.
Manager Charlie Manuel seems to favor Eric Bruntlett on the bench because he runs well and can play almost every position in the field. However, Bruntlett has not hit well and ended the year with 18 hits in 105 at-bats for a .171 average. Miguel Cairo has performed much better and can play most of the infield spots; he ended the season batting .267 and went 7 for his last 19 including a triple and a home run in the final game.
While Cairo should get the nod over Bruntlett, it may not happen that way. Bruntlett was with the team last year and Manuel tends to favor guys he is most familiar with. Both could make the team, but only if they sacrifice a bullpen spot. Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs should all be locks for the roster, despite the facts that Dobbs has been playing hurt and Stairs batted only .194 this year with 5 homers in 103 at-bats.
The pitching is even more complicated. Most likely Cliff Lee will start game 1 as Cole Hamels would only have 3 days rest. However, Lee has been mostly awful in his last 7 starts, allowing 27 runs in 39 2/3 innings. That is an ERA of about 6.13. Not good. The Phillies hope he will turn things around for his first post-season appearance.
Hamels was equally inconsistent, ending the season with a record of 10-11 and a 4.32 ERA. Pedro Martinez has been dealing with a sore neck, so his ability to pitch deep into a game effectively is in serious question. Joe Blanton and JA Happ have been the only two good, consistent arms in the rotation all year and now Happ may get bumped to the bullpen due to a lack of lefties. That would be a real shame though, because Happ has the best record of the starting staff with 12 wins, 4 losses and an ERA of 2.93. Honestly, I think they need to keep Happ as a starter and take their chances with the lefty situation in the pen. Happ is more valuable for 6-7 innings than he would be for only a few batters.
That brings us to the pen, which is basically a mess. Every regular bullpen pitcher has suffered at least one injury this year, except Ryan Madson. Right now, JC Romero, Jamie Moyer and Chan Ho Park are still hurt and will not play in the NLDS; Moyer is done for the year. That leaves Scott Eyre as the only experienced lefty, and he is pitching through a sore elbow. Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Brad Lidge and Madson are on the roster for sure. That leaves Tyler Walker, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers and the 2 rookies, Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo to fill the remaining spots.
Escalona and Bastardo are both lefties but lack experience and have exhibited a lack of pitching control at times as well. It would be tough to add one of them to the roster, even though lefties are needed. Kendrick spent most of the year in the minors, but pitched fairly well for the big club in September until his last outing where he gave up 3 runs. And Myers has suffered two injuries which kept him out almost the whole year and he still does not look quite right. That leaves Tyler Walker whose 3.06 ERA is 3rd best in the pen, behind Eyre and Condrey.
But with all the injuries, the Phillies options are limited. My best guess is this: Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Walker and Myers with Pedro Martinez added to the list instead of Happ. That makes 12 pitchers total, including the 4 starters: Happ, Lee, Hamels and Blanton. Although, if one lefty in the pen looks problematic, they may keep Bastardo instead of Walker. Of course, I may be totally off. We shall see.