Brad Lidge is back. And tonight, hopefully he will officially be back closing out Kyle Kendrick’s first decision of the 2010 season. Kendrick has filled in as best he could thus far. He has not factored in a decision in any of his first four starts this year. His +7 ERA only seems manageable now that it’s in single digits. Before his eight scoreless innings against the Braves (which the bullpen blew. Again no decision for KK) his ERA was steadily climbing towards 20.00.
But with Lidge back and the possibility of him closing out the game tonight, I can not help but wonder if he might be closing out Kendrick’s season as well. Kendrick was battling Jamie Moyer all Spring Training for the final rotation spot. And while pitching in all ‘A’ games and pitching well, he took a back seat to Moyer who struggled in mostly ‘B’ games. But 8 million sitting in the bullpen looks a lot different from 400k rounding out the pitching staff. I guess when it counts Moyer has pitched well this season going 2-2 with an ERA just above five.
Joe Blanton, despite getting rocked a bit in his last rehab start, says he is ready to return to the big league club. And soon behind him will be JA Happ and Jimmy Rollins. Now we all know once Rollins comes back it will be Wilson Valdez on waivers. He is all out of options so will have to get passed up by the rest of the league before going back to Lehigh Valley. And with the injury bug biting a lot of teams already this year, that seems unlikely.
Antonio Bastardo has been optioned to Lehigh to make room for Lidge. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro brought in former Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa to help out in the pen. J.C. Romero is back, and bullpen residents Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson are not going anywhere. So who leaves once Blanton and Happ come back? Who are the odd men out? My list is Kendrick, Danys Baez, Figgy, or David Herndon.
Herndon was a Rule 5 pick from the Angels and would have to be returned to LA if removed from the 25 man roster. While he pitched great in Spring Training earning him a spot in the pen, he has struggled in relief in 8.2 IP with a +6 ERA. Another option to leave would be Figueroa. I know Rube thought he would be a good mid-game inning eater but Durbin and Jose Contreras if needed they can throw two or three innings.
Kendrick will be a good 4th or 5th starter some day but it is hard to see when he fits in here. Unless he can get steady work he will continue to be unable to locate pitches. He has as many walks as he does strikeouts this season (9). Ultimately I think Kendrick moves to the bullpen once Blanton returns and Herndon is released. As for Happ’s return I think this will cause Rube to release Figgy. I only say this because Baez is set to make 2.5 million so the Phillies must have a lot of confidence in his abilities. As for the Philly Phaithful, the jury is still out.
With the Phillies playing well enough to only spend their, now, third day out of first place since May 2009, the return of Blanton and Happ will be huge. I am all for letting the Mets ‘peak’ this early in the season and see them run out of steam come the All Star break.
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