Phillies/Marlins Series Preview IV

The Marlins come into town and they have to feel pretty good about missing J.A. Happ and Cliff Lee who both pitched excellently in their starts Wednesday and yesterday, respectively. Happ threw his second complete game shut-out of the season and Lee allowed only one run in seven innings in his first start at home in Philadelphia. The Fishies will face Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, and notorious Fish-killer Jamie Moyer.

The Atlanta Braves are in Los Angeles for three against the Dodgers, so it’s a great opportunity to widen the gap between the Phillies and all of the wannabes in the NL East. It’s also feasible that by next Thursday, the New York Mets — who do have the luxury of facing the worst of the NL West in the next six days — will be closer to the Washington Nationals than to the Phillies. You know, just throwin’ that out there.

Obviously, the big issue surrounding the Phillies concerns the starting rotation and what to do with Pedro Martinez on the horizon. With Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Cliff Lee guaranteed spots, that leaves the last two to J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer, and Martinez. Well, actually, there’s only one left now with GM Ruben Amaro’s public comments:

“Happ’s not going anywhere. He’s not going out of the rotation,” Amaro said. “He deserves to stay in the rotation. He’s pitched very well. He’s probably been our most effective starter.”

One spot between Old Man Moyer and Pedro. As you’re already aware of, I think I have a cure for the issue, but assuming the Phillies braintrust is still in limbo on the issue, Moyer’s start in the series finale may actually be an audition, a last-ditch effort to stay in the rotation. It couldn’t come against a better opponent: Moyer has a career 2.83 ERA against the Marlins in over 95 innings pitched. Most of the Marlins’ regulars hit poorly against him, including Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, Nick Johnson, and Jeremy Hermida.

Believe it or not, the Phillies may still not know what to do with Moyer and Martinez at the end of the series. And that could be a problem considering that the bullpen is close to having too many deserving participants. Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero should be back in about a week, and Brett Myers could be making his long-awaited return to action after his labrum issue.

With 23 roster spots understood, there are two spots left for Martinez, Kyle Kendrick, Rodrigo Lopez, Tyler Walker, Brett Myers, and Clay Condrey (if he returns).

Obviously, Lopez is easy to cast aside and Kyle Kendrick can go back to the Minors. Tyler Walker can go. Condrey, Myers, and Martinez for two spots. They can keep Condrey sidelined until September 1 until rosters expand, and there you go, problem solved. Now you just have to find roles for everyone that keeps them satisfied.

Ugh, who knew signing Pedro Martinez would create so many headaches!

All right, enough speculating. Here are the hitting and pitching charts for the series. Click each table if you’d like to see it in better quality.

Hitting

Pitching

If the Phils take two of three from the Marlins and the Braves lose two of three, they’ll be 8 and 8.5 games ahead respectively, quite a lead to overcome. The Phillies have six games with the Braves this month and four with the Mets. If they play their cards right, they can firmly step on the throats of their NL East foes by the end of the month.