A GENERATION OR SO from now, some little kid will be playing around with his iPhone Nano techno computer/eight-slice toaster, and he will stumble across a web page devoted to the 2010 Phillies.
He'd heard the legends of the H2O boys, but he wasn't aware that the Phillies actually had five starting pitchers that season.
Kyle Kendrick, he will say to himself, he must be the guy they named that Catholic high school in Norristown after. (Uh, no.)
Joe Blanton? Didn't he once hit a home run in the World Series? (That was 2008.)
While the dazzling trio of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt are making people recall some of the greatest top-heavy rotations of all time, Blanton and Kendrick have spent the 2010 postseason cooling their elbows.
Blanton didn't get to pitch in the first-round sweep of the Reds, though he was 6-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his final 13 starts during the regular season. Even if the first-round series went the maximum five games, Blanton's only action would have been in relief.
Kendrick wasn't even on the roster.
"The key thing is to keep throwing every day and make sure you get your bullpen work in every day," said Blanton, who likely will get the start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants a week from tomorrow.
If so, it would be exactly 3 weeks after his most recent regular-season start on Sept. 29. Boxers and thoroughbreds might be the only athletes who can take that much time off and still be effective.
"We've done it in the past," Blanton said. "We've had a lot of days off in the past. That's the good thing about the postseason multiple years. You've been there and you know how to handle the situation of having a lot of days off."
The extended rest hasn't always been kind to Blanton, however.
Last year, he made two relief appearances in the first round before getting the ball in Game 4 of the NLCS for his first start in 17 days. Blanton went six innings and gave up four runs (three earned), but he kept the Phillies in it long enough for Jimmy Rollins to drill a game-winning double off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton.
In Game 4 of the subsequent World Series - and after a 12-day hiatus - Blanton again surrendered four runs (all earned), but kept the Phillies in the game before Johnny Damon's ninth-inning dash ignited the winning rally for the Yankees.
"I'll just get ready for whatever," said Blanton, 29. "If they want me to throw out of the bullpen the first couple of days . . . last year, I did that. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do it."
Kendrick's status is much more tenuous.
Despite joining Hamels and Halladay as the only pitchers to make at least 30 starts for the Phillies this year, Kendrick was kept off the NLDS roster. The club decided to carry only 10 pitchers and go with a larger bench for the potential five-game series against the Reds. With the NLCS being a best-of-seven series, the Phils might opt to dress 11 pitchers, which would open up a spot for presumably Kendrick, Danys Baez or David Herndon. All are righthanders, though the latter two are traditional relief pitchers. Something ungodly would have to happen for Kendrick to get a postseason start.
The proverbial backseat he has been asked to take did not diminish the taste of the champagne from Sunday's clincher. Kendrick reflected on his time spent with the H2O boys and said it was like drinking from the holy fountain of pitching knowledge. With any luck, Kendrick, 26, hopes to write his own passages for that mythical kid to stumble over some day.
"I've learned from those guys all year, and it's made me better," he said. "I've had a better year than I've ever had. Obviously, it can be a lot better, but both Roys and Cole helped me out." *