J.A. Happ is out, at least for one start, while Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero and Joe Blanton are making their way back in.
The big news yesterday was the announcement that Happ will miss tomorrow’s start with a very mild flexor tendon strain, which will be tested in a bullpen session scheduled for Thursday. The injury means two-fifths of their projected Opening Day rotation is MIA, including Blanton, who is ahead of schedule following an oblique injury. The right-hander makes the first of three scheduled rehab starts beginning tonight in Lakewood. In the meantime, the Phils are playing with the hand they’ve been dealt, sticking with Kyle Kendrick to open tonight in Atlanta, followed by Roy Halladay and Jamie Moyer. Cole Hamels opens Friday in Arizona, then the Phillies will need an emergency starter for Saturday, with Nelson Figueroa the most likely candidate. If the Phils are forced to use Figgy in long relief leading up to Saturday, they’ll need to get creative. The Phils are extremely thin at the high levels, but have the luxury of having a couple of starters – Drew Carpenter, Yohan Flande, Drew Naylor, Jesus Sanchez – already on the 40-man roster.
Meanwhile, help could be on the way in the bullpen. Very quietly, Lidge has pitched in two strong outings in a row, including a nine-pitch 1-2-3 inning yesterday for Clearwater. His next stop could be Reading. Higher up the chain, Romero made his fourth appearance last night in Lehigh Valley and struggled with his location, throwing only six of his 19 pitches for strikes and also uncorked a wild pitch in a losing effort. Otherwise, Romero has posted positive results during his rehab journey.
Cosart: Down on the farm, keep your eye on 19-year-old Jarred Cosart. The right-hander struck out 10 over six shutout innings yesterday for Lakewood and is off to a scorching start, going 3-0 with a 24/3 K/BB ratio in three starts. It’s very possible that by the end of the season, Cosart, who is already highly regarded by the Phillies – could rate as the top pitching prospect in the chain, if he isn't there already.
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Brown injured: Mike Drago has an update on the head injury that has kept Domonic Brown out of the last three games. [Link]