Daily News’ David Murphy notes that a run of hot starting pitching is leaving Greg Dobbs and other reservists cold. Tonight’s game could be a good time to give them some work. [Link]
One only needs to revisit Game 4 of the NLCS to recognize the importance of at-the-ready pinch hitting. That is, of course, in reference to Matt Stairs’ game-winning pinch homer, one of the greatest hits in franchise history. If the Phillies are to expect the same type of heroics from their bench, they’ll need to figure out a way to squeeze in more playing time for guys like Stairs and Greg Dobbs. Stairs, whose star has shrunk to a .213/.357/.388 line, has one hit since June and rarely steps foot on the field. So far, the 41-year-old slugger has made just 98 plate appearances. Compare that to last season, when he earned 387 plate appearances between Toronto and Philly, plenty of time to tune up for Jonathan Broxton’s fastball. Like Stairs, Dobbs, who hasn't taken a cut since Aug. 11, must feel like he’s back in the American League. Last year’s pinch-hit leader is well off the pace of his 240 plate appearances from '08, connecting for just seven pinch hits, compared to 22 a year ago. As for Eric Bruntlett, there may be no turning back. For all his faults, even Gnome earned his ring in the postseason.
Tonight would be a great night to give guys ABs against Doug Davis and the horrible Diamondbacks. The Phils are rolling, so what could it hurt? Expect Ben Francisco to give Raul Ibanez a break; Francisco has become Charlie Manuel’s first option off the bench. And with Joe Blanton on the bump, Manuel can afford to sacrifice defense and give Pedro Feliz a blow at third base. I had originally thought E-Brunt here, but what’s the use? Bruntlett can prepare for what he's asked to do shagging balls and jogging along the warning track. Give Dobbs the start, even against the lefty.