The Phillies carry a four-man bench into the final game with Washington, likely a temporary measure as the need for a right-handed bat has become more evident.
When Brad Lidge blew Friday's save, forcing the Phillies to exhaust Saturday's scheduled starter J.A. Happ, it might have been the push the Phillies needed to rethink their 25-man roster. The newest addition is 24-year-old Sergio Escalona, a lefty who started turning heads late last season. The Phillies thought enough of Escalona to protect him on the 40-man roster, and he's demonstrating why, saving 10 games at Double-A and extending a scoreless innings streak to 9 1-3 innings prior to yesterday's call-up.
Recalling Escalona may have been the quickest and easiest solution to round out the roster while the Phillies finish up in Washington. It's probable Escalona won't last long, but the club has been known to surprise. Lugging the league's second-worst ERA, the Phillies could actually view Escalona as part of their plans rather than a quick fix with options. Since Happ has proven to be an invaluable longman, while Jack Taschner has become something of a poor-man's Happ, the Phils actually have a need for a situational lefty, something the Phillies hope Escalona can become.
The Phils may have looked good in yesterday's twin bill, but don't let their performance against woeful Washington fool you. While the pitching staff remains on shaky ground, the biggest hole may be on the bench. The Phillies identified this right-handed weakness early this offseason and never found a suitable answer. Miguel Cairo, who filled the role until about 10 p.m. on Friday, was designated for assignment, leaving them a man short for a standard bench. Cairo's greatest asset was his versatility, providing insurance for Pedro Feliz and Chase Utley, who've both emerged healthy. Now, with Greg Dobbs, Chris Coste and Eric Bruntlett all struggling, the Phils are desperate for another threat.
As teams begin to identify their strengths in weaknesses around the league, the Phils could begin searching for a match from the outside. Until they find one, Escalona could stick around, at least through the end of the roadtrip.