Recovering right-hander Kris Benson ran his streak of quality starts to five in a row for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. For Benson, J.A. Happ, Adam Eaton and Carlos Carrasco, there’s no room at the inn, and that’s just fine.
When Brett Myers was demoted to the minors on July 1, the Phillies became the last team in baseball to break from their original starting five. That's rare. In reality, a pitching staff isn’t a quintet so much as an octet. Pitching depth has become essential in making it through a 162-game schedule, and right now, the Phils are sitting on a couple of arms that could hold their own should a situation present itself.
Benson, a career 4.34 ERA pitcher before shoulder problems derailed his career, allowed three runs over seven innings yesterday, striking out four and walking none. His command has been solid, even if the strikeouts aren’t there. Benson signed a minor league deal with the Phils this offseason, but his progress has been slowed by numerous injury setbacks (groin, biceps, shoulder). He’s finally strong enough to take his turn every fifth day and make 100 pitches ... just in time for the big-league rotation to appear deeper than at any point in the season. Still, with their blend of homegrown talent, free agents, veterans and outside help, Pat Gillick has assembled a formidable staff, with an insurance policy.
It’s possible Phillies played relief market correctly: While we’re in the mood to hand out compliments, a nod of early approval goes out to Gillick and the front office for hanging back and waiting for a situational lefty to shake loose (Scott Eyre) before trading a top prospect to get one. Now, Eyre has retired the one and only batter he faced so far, so he’s got a lot to prove. Still, I’m glad Jason Donald isn’t a Royal and optimistic Eyre has enough left in the tank to get the Phillies through to October.