The two off-days between Sunday's decisive win and Wednesday's NLDS opener give the Phillies a chance to do a few important things: shake off the hangover, catch up on sleep, and decide what 25 players they want to bring to the field for the first round.
Before setting out whom I'd put on that 25-man roster, let's take a minute to review the oft-unclear rules about eligibility:
This explains how, in the classic example, Francisco Rodriguez was able to help the Angels win the title in 2002 despite still being in the minors on Aug. 31. He replaced Steve Green, who had been on the 60-day DL. As it happens, the Phillies have a half-dozen guys--Zagurski, Hernandez, Madson, Lieber, Garcia, and Mathieson--on the 60-day. So they can pretty much do whatever they choose.
Here's my first-round roster:
Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz, Chris Coste
Infielders (7): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs, Tadahito Iguchi, Abraham Nunez, Wes Helms
Outfielders (5): Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Michael Bourn
Pitchers (11): Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Kyle Lohse, Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers, Tom Gordon, J.C. Romero, Geoff Geary, Clay Condrey, J.D. Durbin, Fabio Castro
That leaves Rod Barajas, Pete LaForest, Chris Roberson, Antonio Alfonseca, Jose Mesa, Adam Eaton, Kane Davis and John Ennis that I can think of cheering from the bench.
The decision to take Helms over Barajas is predicated upon Ruiz being ready to go on Wednesday and start every game of the NLDS. If Carlos isn't close to 100 percent, you probably need Rod as the fallback.
As for the last two pitching slots, I'd take Durbin as the long man and Castro as a second lefty, but I expect the team to go with Alfonseca and either Mesa or Davis. I just don't trust Alf any farther than I can throw him (i.e. not at all), and Mesa still has no stuff. Davis might come in to strike someone out, but his command is worse than the other two guys.
Also interesting will be how Charlie Manuel sets his rotation. Hamels obviously takes the ball for Game One, but then it's ambiguous. I'm guessing Kyle Kendrick will start the second game, though Lohse could be an option as well. Jamie Moyer is probably unavailable until next weekend; does he start Game Three with Lohse for Game Four if needed, or should Lohse pitch out of the bullpen with Hamels coming back on short rest?
Finally, if the Phils get through the NLDS, they might get Ryan Madson back for the League Championship Series. Adding Madson to the Trusted Three of Myers, Gordon and Romero could flip the bullpen to an actual strength--hard to believe, Harry.