Phillies Notebook: Phillies considering Blanton as Game 4 starter

October 13, 2010

ALL SIGNS POINT to Joe Blanton starting Game 4 of the National League Championship Series with Kyle Kendrick replacing him as the long man in the bullpen.

Blanton, who spent the National League Division Series in the bullpen after the Phillies decided to go with three starters, threw about 80 pitches in a simulated game yesterday. Kendrick, who was left off the NLDS roster to make room for an extra bench player, threw about 35 pitches in the same simulated game.

Before the early-afternoon workout, the Phillies' first since capping off a sweep of the Reds with a 2-0 victory in Cincinnati on Sunday, manager Charlie Manuel said he has yet to make any decisions with regard to his roster or rotation.

"I think more than likely, my thinking right now is there is definitely a possibility we might use Joe," Manuel said. "I feel comfortable with Joe Blanton. But that's something we'll wait and see what happens."

Blanton missed the first month of the season with an oblique injury then posted a 7.28 ERA in his first eight starts. But in his final 20 starts, he went 8-1 with a 3.81 ERA. The Phillies won 15 of those starts.

Blanton said he did not know the team's plan.

"I have as much of a clue as you guys have," he said. "Maybe less."

With an extra off day and the ability to use just three starters in the NLDS, the Phillies opted to keep 10 pitchers on the roster while carrying seven bench players. This time around, the Phillies and Giants have seven potential games in 9 days.

That would seem to open up a spot for Kendrick, who was left off the NLDS roster after starting 31 games and going 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA during the regular season. Other possibilities include righthanders Danys Baez and David Herndon, who traveled with the team despite not being on the NLDS roster.

"There's a possibility that we could definitely add a pitcher," Manuel said. "That's something we'll definitely discuss. Have we made our minds up? Not at this point, no. We haven't had our meetings about what we are going to do with the Giants yet."

Such a move would require the Phillies to drop one of the seven bench players they carried in the NLDS, likely either rookie outfielder Domonic Brown or veteran infielder/pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs.

Thanks to complete games by Roy Halladay in Game 1 and Cole Hamels in Game 3, the bench and the bullpen carried light loads in the NLDS. Neither Ross Gload nor Dobbs appeared in any of the three games. Wilson Valdez got a start in Game 1 in place of Placido Polanco, who was battling back soreness. Mike Sweeney, Ben Francisco and Brown each had a pinch-hit appearance in Game 2.

With two more games and one fewer off day, they should see more action this time around.

Lefty on leftyUnlike the Reds, who featured sluggers Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, the Giants don't appear to have a ton of firepower from the left side of the plate. Still, there is plenty of reason to keep rookie Antonio Bastardo on the roster behind veteran lefty J.C. Romero.

San Francisco's most dangerous lefthanded hitter is first baseman Aubrey Huff, who hit .290 with an .891 OPS and 26 home runs during the regular season. The starting lineup also features two switch-hitters who are demonstrably better against righthanded pitching than they are against lefties. Pablo Sandoval hit .227 with a .589 OPS and one home run against lefties compared with .282/.779, 12 homers against righties. Andres Torres hit .283 with a .881 OPS and 14 home runs against righties compared with .226/.659, two home runs against lefties.

Bench players Travis Ishikawa (.266, .712 OPS, three home runs in 158 at-bats) and Mike Fontentot (.284, .706 OPS, one home run in 240 at-bats with the Cubs and Giants) are both lefthanded hitters.

PhillersRoy Oswalt, who allowed four runs in five innings in the Phillies' 7-4 win in Game 2 of the NLDS, started the simulated game . . . A report out of Toronto named Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin as a possible candidate to succeed Cito Gaston as Blue Jays manager. Mackanin expressed interest in the opening in an interview with the Toronto Sun . . . The Phillies, who are off today, will work out again tomorrow and Friday in preparation for Game 1 Saturday night.