Phillies Play Musical Chairs

One little blown save by the suddenly shaky Brad Lidge led the Phillies to start series of moves that could wind up addressing the bigger issue of the lack of right-handed power on the bench. But, first they had to address pitching just to get through their series with the Washington Nationals.

Let's start playing musical chairs.

The Phils made a move to fill an emergency starter for Saturday night before addressing the last man on the bench. J.A. Happ was supposed to start but after Lidge's Friday night debacle (two runs allowed and a blown save) Happ was called on to mop up the mess.

With Happ unavailable the Phillies reached down to Triple-A to bring up righty Andrew Carpenter for the Saturday night start. Carps did little to impress despite earning the win due to some obscure rain-out rule -- he allowed five earned runs in 4.1 innings while striking out four Nats.

To bring up Carpenter the Phils bid farewell to the disappointing infielder Miguel Cairo who was batting only .118 in limited action.

Despite a rain-shortened game the Phils still had the issue of a worn-out bullpen so they reached down to the minors again to bring up Double-A left-hander reliever Sergio Escalona. The 24-year-old had impressed as a closer for the Reading Phils, according to Beerleaguer.

Escalona immediately contributed to the big-league club by earning his first major-league win Sunday after another implosion by Phillies starter Chan Ho Park left the bullpen even thinner.

With an off day Monday the Phils arms can rest a bit before entering a tough six-game stretch at the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees. But, they still need pitching against the Reds.

Don't be surprised if the Phillies keep Escalona up through the Reds series. He offers an extra bullpen arm that could prove vital against the Reds with unreliable starters Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton toeing the rubber for the Phils.

The Reds also counter with three right-handed starters lessening the need for an extra righty off the Phillies' bench. The Phightins can get away with carrying only four guys (Eric Bruntlett, Chris Coste, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs) for now even though the Reds do have two lefties out of their bullpen.

But, when the Phils arrive at the new Yankees Stadium on Friday afternoon expect for the bench to be expanded back to five players.

It doesn't seem to make sense to need more bench players to play at an American League park. Heck, they have the designated hitter -- that alone begs for a shorter bench because fewer in-game moves are needed and the double switch is virtually unheard of unless you're the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Phils, though, must address an extra right-handed bat to play as the DH against the Yankees. They face two left-handed Bronx beasts on Saturday and Sunday as Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia head to the hill for New York.

The best bet is that the musical chairs will continue and that the Phillies will pick another bat out of the minors. Catcher Lou Marson could get the call allowing the Phils to use Chris Coste as the DH but the better bet could be for outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. to make his Phillies debut.

Mayberry, 25, offers some pop that could prove valuable at the homer-friendly Yankees Stadium. But, the Phils have other options including Pablo Ozuna who is currently batting .293 for the IronPigs.

However it shakes out over this week the Phils will need to address the need for a righty with some pop off the bench sooner rather than later. In the meantime keep an eye on who still has a chair when the music stops.

Contact Us