Less than a week to go before Opening Day and we still haven't been told whether Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick will enter the season as the No. 5 starter. I'd expect that word to come soon, perhaps as soon as today, for sure by Wednesday. Kendrick is scheduled to start against the Astros tomorrow, but it's hard to imagine that his start will have much bearing on what the Phillies ultimately choose. They entered the spring saying the job was Moyer's to lose, and Moyer has done nothing to do to lose it. In fact, he may have won it, considering the tremendous performance he turned in against the Yankees on Firday night, allowing one hit in 6 2/3 innings at George M. Steinbrenner field. Moyer was helped out by his defense -- the Yankees hit several balls on the nose. But he was as sharp as I've seen him at point since 2008, owning the inside half of the plate with his fast(relatively-speaking)ball and cutter while prompting a few big swing-and-misses with his change-up. It has always made the most sense to send Moyer into the season as the fifth starter -- now, with his sterling performance in his two Grapefruit League starts, it borders on a no-brainer.
Kendrick has allowed just three earend runs and 12 hits in 19 2/3 innings for a 1.37 ERA. But Moyer has allowed just one earned run and seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. Nobody expects him to strike out 9.25 batters per nine innings this season. But his numbers are better than Kendrick's (even though that really doesn't matter), he looked really crisp on Friday night, he has 22-plus years of experience behind him, he is owed $8 million this season, and he isn't suited to the bullpen role. There's not reason to expect that this won't end like last year's fifth starter battle -- with the veteran getting a first crack and the fifth spot in the rotation, and the kid heading to the bullpen as a long man.
So where does that leave us?
Kendrick is scheduled to start tomorrow against the Astros, and Moyer isn't scheduled to pitch again until Friday against the Pirates, when he is supposed to relieve Cole Hamels. But the Phillies do not have a starter listed for Thursday's game against the Pirates. It would make sense for the Phillies to decide on their starter today or tomorrow, have Moyer pitch on Thursday, which would leave him lined up to throw a simulated game on the April 6 off day, then start on April 11 against the Astros on normal rest.
Here is a look at the pitching rotation as it could set-up, assuming Moyer gets the job. This one would have Hamels starting the home opener, and would have Hamels and Halladay lined up to face division rivals Atlanta and the Mets, plus playoff contender San Francisco, in the first month of the season:
Today vs. Braves: J.A. Happ
Tuesday at Astros: Kyle Kendrick
Wednesday vs. Blue Jays: Halladay
Thursday vs. Pirates: (Jamie Moyer)
Friday vs. Pirates: Cole Hamels
Saturday vs. Pirates: Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ
Sunday OFF DAY: Nobody
April 5: Halladay (Normal rest)
April 6: OFF DAY: (Moyer sim game)
April 7: at Nationals: Hamels (Normal)
April 8: at Nationals: Blanton (Normal)
April 9: at Astros: Happ (5 days rest)
April 10: at Astros: Halladay (Normal)
April 11: at Astros: Moyer (Normal)
April 12: Home Opener vs. Nationals: Hamels (Normal)
April 13: OFF
April 14: vs. Nationals: Blanton (5 days)
April 15: vs. Nationals: Happ (5 days)
April 16: vs. Marlins: Halladay (5 days)
April 17: vs. Marlins: Hamels (4 days)
April 18: vs. Marlins: Moyer (6 days)
April 19: OFF
April 20: at ATL
April 21: at ATL
April 22: at ATL
April 23: at ARI
April 24: at ARI
April 25: at ARI
April 26: at SF
April 27: at SF
April 28: at SF
April 29: OFF
April 30: vs. NYM
Raul Ibanez, who was hit in the elbow with a pitch on Friday night, still isn't in the line-up.
The Phillies released a host of minor leaguers, the most notable of which are first baseman Brad Wilkerson and pitcher Joe Bisenius.