Monday, October 12, 2009

Charlie is not holding back; Phils need a win tonight

Charlie Manuel is not holding anything back while trying to win the NLDS. He's using anything and everything at his disposal at any time while attempting to defeat the Rockies.

In last night's wild Game 3 victory, he used Greg Dobbs as a pinch-hitter in the fourth, ending J.A. Happ's disappointing outing. Happ wasn't all that bad, but he wasn't locating his pitches and got himself into trouble. One would have to think the cold affected Happ, who is usually an extremely accurate pitcher.

Charlie used Joe Blanton out of the 'pen for the second time in this series, and even used Ryan Madson in the seventh inning to get out of Scott Eyre's jam after Eyre was forced from the game with an ankle injury.

He also used his bench, leaving only Miguel Cairo and Paul Bako as backups. In Game 2, Charlie used his entire bench and Cliff Lee as a pinch-runner while trying to mount a comeback. Bako was the only position player not used in Game 2, but had the Phillies tied it in the ninth, he would have entered the game to catch after Carlos Ruiz was lifted for a pinch hitter.

Charlie also said he wouldn't hesitate to use Pedro Martinez out of the bullpen, if the right situation presented itself. It's also possible that he could use Happ in relief for a batter or two tomorrow if the series goes back to Philly for a deciding Game 5.

It goes without saying that tonight's game is huge for the Phils. If they win, not only do they earn a trip to LA to face the Dodgers, but they will pick up an extra off day before facing the well rested Dodgers. Also, Cole Hamels would pitch Game 1 in LA if the Phils don't need him tomorrow.

Cliff Lee is likely not available until Game 3 of the NLCS, should the Phillies make it that far. To pitch in Game 2, Lee would have to return on three days' rest, something Charlie is unlikely to make Lee do.

If the Phillies lose tonight and win tomorrow, it's unlikely that Lee or Hamels would be available to pitch until Game 3 of the NLCS in Philly. That'd probably leave Pedro and Blanton or Happ to make a start in LA; a situation the Phillies desperately hope to avoid.

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