ATLANTA - With an off day today and Cole Hamels coming off a rain-shortened outing in which he threw just 24 pitches, the Phillies have some flexibility when it comes to setting up their rotation for the next week.
But they are unlikely to exercise it.
"We're probably going to stay in order," pitching coach Rich Dubee said yesterday. "We like the order."
There hasn't been much to dislike over the past couple of weeks. Righthander Kyle Kendrick was the latest Phillies starter to dazzle, holding the Braves to one run on six hits in seven innings yesterday. During the Phillies' current slump, in which they have lost 10 of their last 15, the team's starters have posted a 3.85 ERA. Take away Hamels' performance on Tuesday, when he allowed three runs and recorded two outs before a 64-minute rain delay knocked him from the game, and the staff ERA is 3.56.
As the rotation stands now, here are each pitcher's next three starts:
Halladay: Padres, Marlins, Yankees.
Hamels: Padres, Red Sox, Yankees or Twins.
Moyer: Padres, Marlins, Yankees.
Blanton: Padres, Red Sox, Yankees or Twins.
Kendrick: Marlins, Red Sox, Twins.
Halladay has dominated in two starts against Florida, including last weekend's perfect game, and he has pitched better in his career against the Yankees than he has the Red Sox.
Over the last 3 years, Moyer has pitched well against the Padres and Marlins, and he dominated the Yankees late in spring training.
Leaving Hamels on his current turn also sets up the possibility of him facing the Yankees, depending on how the Phillies decide to use an off day on June 14.
As for why the Phillies decided not to put Hamels back on the mound after the delay, even though Braves righthander Tim Hudson returned to pitch five more solid innings, Dubee pointed to Hamels' last start, which was delayed 2 hours due to rain after he had completed his pre-start bullpen session.
Besides, he said, "I'm not a big believer in bringing guys back."
Don't blame Milt
"I know that we talk enough, we have repetitions enough," Manuel said. "We just happen to be going through a period where we are not hitting . . . It's definitely not Milt's fault. He doesn't do the hitting."
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones left the game after the fourth inning due to inflammation in his right ring finger. He is listed as day-to-day . . . Kendrick's single in the first inning was his first hit of the season. He went 2-for-8 last year . . . Cole Hamels, Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth will appear at the Modell's in South Philadelphia (15th and Snyder Ave.) tomorrow at noon to unveil the line of jerseys, T-shirts and caps they designed in conjuction with the MLBPA . . . The Phillies are off today before opening up a seven-game homestand against the Padres and Marlins tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park . . . Lefthander J.A. Happ, sidelined since April 16 with a strained forearm, is scheduled to pitch two innings of an extended spring training game today in Clearwater, Fla. . . . Shortstop Wilson Valdez, who entered the day with 15 hits in his last 44 at-bats (.341), collected a bunt single in the third inning, but popped up in the eighth to end the inning with the go-ahead run on third base. If voting ended yesterday, four Phillies would be in the All-Star Game, paced by second baseman Chase Utley, whose roughly 1.1 million votes at second base lead all NL players. Jimmy Rollins, who has missed most of the season with a strained calf, has a slim lead over the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez at shortstop (548,629 to 526,890). Outfielder Jayson Werth is second among outfielders with 629,894 votes (behind Ryan Braun's 693,460 and ahead of Andre Ethier's 606,514). Centerfielder Shane Victorino is fourth among outfielders with 566,434.
The Phillies have hit just .202 in their last 15 games, but manager Charlie Manuel said he doesn't think hitting coach Milt Thompson should shoulder the blame.