Jamie Moyer was in trouble. Again. In the first inning of Monday night's game in Arizona, Moyer had stranded D-Back baserunners on first and second. In the second frame, Moyer allowed the first three batters to reach base, but escaped unscathed, striking out the opposing pitcher, and inducing an inning-ending twin killing. This time, Moyer had begun the third inning by surrendering a leadoff single, followed by a walk. With Arizona slugger Mark Reynolds due to bat, it appeared that Moyer's early-inning fortune was about to run out.
Fortunately for Moyer and the Phillies, Reynolds' ability to hit for power is coupled by a propensity for whiffing. A strikeout, and two infield pops later, Moyer had escaped another potential rally. Ryan Howard gave the Phils a 2-0 lead in the fourth, with a long drive over the fence in center. Moyer settled down, shutting out the D-Backs through six and two-thirds innings, while the Phillies took advantage of some shoddy Arizona fielding, and took a 6-0 advantage. Ryan Madson, pitching with a 6-0 lead, surrendered two runs in the eighth, one on a Reynolds home run. Brad Lidge came on to finish things in the ninth, retiring the side in order, in a non-save situation.
Moyer has posted a 3.30 ERA in July, in thirty innings (five starts). As a whole, the Phillies' starting pitchers have posted a 2.80 July ERA. With that kind of starting pitching, the Phillies hardly need Roy Halladay, right? Well, no. Moyer has pitched well in three July starts, against weak teams (Mets, Marlins, D-Backs), and very poorly in two July starts, against the Reds and Cubs. Moyer should be on the sidelines in the postseason. Well, unless the Phils happen to face the Florida Marlins in the NLCS.
The non-Moyer components of the rotation have done well recently, particularly Joe Blanton, but those gaudy numbers have been posted (for the most part) at the expense of some very weak competition. The timing of this streak has been good, as the starters have eaten innings that otherwise would have been forced down the throats of overworked relievers Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madson. Not to mention helping minimize the number of appearances made by the likes of Tyler Walker and Steven Register. However, the Phils still need to upgrade their postseason rotation. The difference between a Halladay-Hamels-Blanton top three, and a Hamels-Blanton-Happ combo, is rather sizeable, and could be the difference between WFC II, and a loss in the NL playoffs.
Cole Hamels takes the mound on Tuesday night in Arizona, opposed by D-Backs' ace Dan Haren (2.14 ERA/.84 WHIP!). A few years from now, the Phillies could be looking to acquire Haren at the deadline, in order to bolster their playoff rotation. Tonight, the Phils will probably just be looking to get Haren's pitch count up, so that they can take their chances against the Arizona bullpen.