With the Phillies inching closer and closer to *actually* clinching a playoff birth, it's that time of year where decisions will be made about who is in or out of the 25-man playoff roster. The starters are assumed, so I'll just get right down to the good stuff.
Paul Bako, Ben Francisco, and Greg Dobbs are all easy shoe-ins for the first three bench spots. Despite his poor hitting over the course of the season, you would think that Matt Stairs is also a virtual shoe-in at professional hitter. Charlie will most likely have to choose between Eric Bruntlett and Miguel Cairo for a fifth bench spot. The "better" choice is Bruntlett, based on the fact that he's been in the majors longer than Cairo this year. The only guy I haven't mentioned is John Mayberry Jr., who Charlie will probably leave off because of a lack of experience.
The 4th Starter:
Assuming that Charlie Manuel goes with a four-man rotation in the playoffs, like he did last year, the first three spots are easy to fill in. Discussions about who is "the ace" are kind of irrelevant. I feel just as good about Hamels/Lee/Blanton as I do about Lee/Hamels/Blanton. The fourth starter is a lucky situation, because we have two guys who can do a fine job in J.A. Happ and Pedro Martinez.
The Milwaukee series will be telling for this competition. Happ will start Thursday, and then Pedro will go on Saturday. Neither of these guys looked good in their last starts, despite both having built up nice resumes over the course of the season/six weeks.
The momentum has to be with Martinez right now, partly because of his eight innings against New York two weeks back, mostly because he's got the freshest arm on the team. It's likely that both Happ and Martinez will be on the playoff roster, but in what capacity each of them will pitch is the question.
It's certainly time to rehash the season-long question of whether or not Brad Lidge should be left off the playoff roster. We don't need to talk about his struggles, because we all know them. There's been a lot of discussion in the last two months about Lidge's role as the closer. Whether Madson can close, or whether Myers can close. Hell, how about Pedro closing?
As far as the rest of the bullpen goes, Brett Myers just had a minor strain on his lat muscle and should be back sometime next week. Same goes with Chan Ho Park, who's still recovering from his hamstring injury. Scott Eyre is also ready to go. Clay Condrey, Tyler Walker, and Ryan Madson are clearly in the equation.
Assuming that Charlie carries both Happ and Martinez, as well as five guys off the bench, it leaves seven bullpen spots. There's those six guys, there's also Chad Durbin, Brad Lidge, and Jamie Moyer. Personally, I'd rather have either Moyer or Durbin on the playoff roster than Lidge.