10/18/08 9:59 PM ET
Manuel to stick with same rotation
Myers, Moyer, Blanton to follow Hamels for Phils in World Series
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
The Phillies have yet to officially announce their World Series rotation, though Manuel all but did so on Saturday.
"Right now," Manuel said, "I'd say our rotation's going to be staying about the same. The way we've got it set up is just like we've always had it. That's the way we start out, so we'll see."
That means that Cole Hamels will pitch Wednesday's Game 1, followed by Brett Myers for the second game in either St. Petersburg or Boston. Jamie Moyer, despite his postseason struggles, will remain in the rotation to pitch Game 3 in Philadelphia, and Joe Blanton will start Game 4.
"Moyer won a lot of games for us this year," Manuel said, explaining his decision. "He's one reason why we're where we're at. He will pitch against whoever we play."
Concern followed Moyer after he endured his year's worst outing in the National League Championship Series, allowing six runs over 1 1/3 innings in Game 3. And that came eight days after he lasted just four innings in a Division Series loss to the Brewers. The Phillies have lost just two games this postseason, and Moyer has started both of them.
"The better pitches I made -- which weren't many -- they hit," Moyer said. "And the poor pitches I made, they hit. It's just like the regular season. You have days where you have a good day, and you have days where you have a bad day. I just picked the wrong time to do it."
Combined, Moyer's losses gave the Phillies reason to consider skipping him in the World Series -- and they certainly might have done so, considering that a three-man rotation would require them to use a pitcher on short rest just once.
But Manuel opted against skipping Moyer, and even against flipping him and Blanton in Games 3 and 4. So in the event that the World Series extends to seven games, Moyer -- discounting the possibility that either Hamels or Myers might pitch on short rest -- would be in line to pitch a potential Game 7.
Moyer and Blanton started opposite each other in a simulated game at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.
Quite a few alternatives faced Manuel heading in to the World Series, though he chose to ignore all of them in favor of the rotation that helped lead his team here. Myers, for one, has proven to be a better pitcher at Citizens Bank Park, where he produced a 3.01 ERA in the regular season and two wins in the playoffs. On the road, by contrast, Myers finished 3-8 with a 6.21 ERA.
Yet Manuel chose to start Myers on the road in Game 2, rather than at home in Game 3. He also could have chosen to flop Myers -- who pitched successfully on three days' rest earlier this year -- with Hamels, whom the team has admittedly been unwilling to use on short rest. Doing so would have allowed the Phillies to start Myers three times during the World Series, rather than just two.
And though he ignored all those options, Manuel's rotation remains written in pencil, meaning everything might change depending on how the Phillies perform against either the Red Sox or Rays in Games 1 and 2. The World Series is set to begin in the American League champion's city on Wednesday, with Games 4, 5, and 6 scheduled for Citizens Bank Park from next Saturday through Monday.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.