J.C. Romero has announced that he doesn’t expect to be ready until the Phillies' first home stand April 12-15, meaning there are two openings in the Opening Day bullpen.
The following question is the Phillies' equivalent to the 500-pound gorilla in the room: What happens if Jamie Moyer loses the fifth starter battle? Do they dare demote him to the bullpen again with all that he stands to make in starting incentives? His salary rises by $500,000 when he starts his 25th, 27th, 29th and 31st games and increases by the same amount when he reaches 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings. Would they attempt to trade him? It’s highly unlikely, considering his age, cost, recent injury history and the fact that he would have a say in where he goes. It’s one of the reasons why some people believe Kendrick is doomed to lose the battle, since he can be optioned and might put up less of a struggle if he started the year in the bullpen the way J.A. Happ did last year. The Phillies’ play a scattered schedule in the early going and will not necessarily need a fifth starter until the first home stand.
If I were to set the odds, this is how I would expect to Phillies’ pitching staff to look once they break camp: Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Moyer with a bullpen of Lidge, Madson, Baez, Durbin, Contreras, Bastardo and Kendrick. When Romero returns, either Bastardo or Kendrick goes to the minors.
In this regard, the Romero injury might be a minor blessing. Assuming a guy like Antonio Bastardo or Sergio Escalona would fill one of the openings, the extra slot could also allow them to carry Rule 5 pick David Herndon a little longer, in hopes that the Angels would be less likely to reacquire him while the season is already underway. Of course, there’s always the possibility that they carry a six-man bench, but a 12-man pitching staff has traditionally been their preference. The chances of that might increase if Brad Lidge starts the season on the DL.
Kendrick starts: The Phillies and Yankees play at 1:05 today in a game you can watch live online at www.phillies.com. Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin and Scott Mathieson will also pitch.