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Is Charlie Manuel exhausting the Phillies' starters?


The minute two Arizona Diamondbacks reached base in the ninth inning, Charlie Manuel should have removed Roy Halladay from the game. Roy Haladay photo: Matt Slocum/AP.

Instead, Manuel stuck with Halladay, he didn’t close the game, and threw 122 pitches in a 3-2 loss.

Damn. That one stung.

I know Halladay is your ace and all that good stuff. I totally get it. I know he retired the last 12 Diamondbacks going into the ninth inning. But come on!  It’s the middle of August, and the Phillies’ starters, who have carried this team to unimaginable heights for the entire season, are showing sings of wear and tear.

Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee are all in the top five in innings pitched this year in the National League. You have a bullpen that has only blown one save all season, why not use them?  Ryan Madson hasn’t pitched in four days. Moreover, you don’t want to run the risk of having another one of your starters getting an MRI.

These guys are great. But let’s not kid ourselves. If we lose one or two of these guys come playoff time or they aren’t as effective, our goose is absolutely cooked. Placido Polanco is already headed to the disabled list. We don't need anymore big guns going down at this stage of the year.

Am I the only one who thinks this?

Yeah I know Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter in last year’s post season. I also know he looked downright exhausted in the NLCS against the Giants while injuring his groin in the process.

Halladay looks tired. Only Justin Verlander  and C.C Sabathia  have thrown more innings in the major leagues this year, and they are both younger than Halladay. His fastball as well as his location has been spotty since after the All-Star break. Granted, Halladay on his B-game is better than anyone on their A-game. It’s not a red flag, but it’s worth noting.

Then there’s Hamels, who had an MRI which revealed shoulder inflammation. Hamels is tied for the league lead with 25 starts. As you may remember, Hamels was shut down for a part of 2006 and September 2007. Simply put, the Phillies need Hamels if they have a hope in hell of winning anything this year, so he should also be watched closely. Hamels will miss his next start, and that's fine with me.

Halladay is a bulldog and Hamels (at least over the last two years) isn’t one to take himself out of a game. In saying that, this is where the two have to realize the bigger goal is more important, and to trust the Phillies’ bullpen to get the job done. And as much as Cliff Lee seems to have a rubber arm, Charlie Manuel has to keep an eye on him as well and properly balance his bullpen with giving his starters sufficient inning just prior to the playoffs.

Read how Phillies’ New Wall Of Famer John Kruk epitomized the Philadelphia Athlete right here!

If Jose Contreras and Joe Blanton can come back and eat some innings over the next month, it would even help the bullpen. Rookie Michael Stutes has shown signs of wear and tear, and you can’t run the risk of Antonio Bastardo  being overused as well.Cole Hamels will miss his next start. Photo: www.thefightins.com

On the bright side, Roy Oswalt seems to be recovering from his back injury  and looked solid against the Nationals. Could his injury return? Absolutely, but his mental makeup is a far cry from what we saw several months ago, when Oswalt wondered if he would ever pitch again.

And the old school talk that “Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson threw all those innings back in the day and it didn’t bother them” doesn’t even apply to today’s game. Players are bigger, stronger, and more susceptible to injury. There is more money tied up with these players in contracts as well. Also keep in mind that baseball went from a 154 game season and no playoffs to 162 games and post season play by 1969. Drysdale was retired by then and Gibson would never again reach the post season. Add the extra round of playoffs in 1995 and it literally is a whole new ballgame.

I don’t care if it’s considered babying or not, Manuel has to be careful how he uses these guys from this point on. These guys won’t magically get their stamina back come October, and a six-man rotation would completely thrown them off their routine. This Phillies team has relied on them all year. It’s about time the offense stepped up (which they didn’t do Tuesday night by the way) and helped them out, because they need it right about now.

How are they going to do this? I don’t know. There has to be a fine line. That’s why they pay Manuel the big bucks.

And that’s why I’m writing about it from my desk.


Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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