Sep 052010

Phillies RHP Roy Oswalt

September 5 Philadelphia Inquirer

“A decade ago, former Phillies general manager Ed Wade acquired Andy Ashby in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres and immediately declared that he had a pair of aces.

Turned out Wade was bluffing.

The Phillies, with Ashby and Curt Schilling, actually had a pair of disgruntled jokers and both were shipped away by Wade before the 2000 trade deadline.

Ten years later, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has three aces and he’s not bluffing. The only thing the Phillies have to decide now is how they’re going to play their hand for the remainder of the season.

With 26 games left and a fourth straight National League East title up for grabs, manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee must figure out how to best line up their three aces.

It’s a luxury they have because starting this week the Phillies are off every Thursday for the remainder of the season provided there is not a rain postponement. With a few minor alterations, they could pitch their three aces Sept. 20, 21, and 22 in what figures to be a pivotal division showdown against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

In order to make that possible, the Phillies‘ starting rotation would have to stay on turn through Sept. 15, then let Oswalt pitch on four days’ rest Sept. 17 against Washington while moving Kyle Kendrick back one day, to Sept. 18.

With that move, the Phillies‘ rotation for the home series later this month against Atlanta would be Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt.

If the Phillies wanted to reduce Kendrick’s starts this month to four and increase Oswalt’s total to six, they could also set up a rotation that would allow them to pitch Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt, all on an extra day of rest, in the final three-game series of the season at Atlanta.

Asked about his plans before Friday night’s game against Milwaukee, Manuel gave a poker-faced non-answer.

“We’re going to weigh all our options about what we can do,” the manager said.

Manuel said he does not want to overwork Halladay, who is the true staff ace and the man the Phillies will want to use the most in the postseason if they get there.

“You see Roy Halladay and he has 214 innings and he’s going to get at least five more starts, so he’s going to be up there around 260,” Manuel said. “By the time we go to the postseason, he could get to 300 innings.”

Halladay has never pitched more than 266 innings in a season, and that was in 2003.

If the Phillies choose to shuffle their rotation to make sure the three aces line up in the final six games against the Braves, they can do so without putting too much stress on any of their stud pitchers.”

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