Philadelphia Phillies: 6 Dark-Horse Candidates to Be No. 5 Starter
What if there is an injury to the Phillies' rotation? What if one of the five (likely in the back end) struggle?
The Phillies will need someone to fill in the slot.
Because of the unlikeliness involved, with Joe Blanton being healthy and Vance Worley looking to follow up great 2011 campaigns, it would take a dark horse candidate to fill in for one of the five.
If there is an injury or someone in the back end struggles terribly, Philadelphia could call Roy Oswalt back, if he is still available. This would be very similar to the Pedro Martinez route they went down in 2009, which actually worked out quite well, minus one World Series start he made while sick.
I figure that Oswalt's back and heart (to pitch) will hold up for less than half a season.
Don’t forget about the valuable swing man Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick actually posted better numbers than Oswalt last season. Maybe all that time spent with Roy Halladay is at least helping, and this is not the Kendrick of 2008 who struggled mightily. It seems like he’s been around forever because he came up so young, but Kendrick is actually only 27 years old and it is possible he is still growing as a big league pitcher.
He’ll likely start the year in the bullpen, but if Blanton’s injury problems reoccur or the Phillies feel Worley is a better bullpen option, don’t be too down on Kendrick.
Unless there was some promise issued to Willis upon agreeing on a contract with him—like with Chan Ho Park before the 2009 season—Willis likely will not seriously be considered for a spot in the rotation. It would not be surprising if they at least think about it in spring training, much like they did with Jose Contreras before the 2010 season.
Clearly, the recent Willis is not the same Willis who pitched for the Marlins in the middle part of last decade. Could the Phillies and Rich Dubee get something more out of Willis than he's given in recent years? Probably not. So he's not "Plan B," but he's not quite "Plan Z," so consider him somewhere around "Plan V."
If something requires a pitcher to be called up, assuming he's healthy, you have to think that Dave Bush would be one of the first guys Ruben Amaro and company think about calling. A few years back with the Brewers, Bush wasn't too bad of a pitcher.
Phillies fans may remember seeing him best when he threw a near-no-hitter in the beginning of the 2009 season.
Misch is an interesting candidate because he's had more recent experience in the big leagues compared to Bush. He's left-handed, so if that could potentially make any significance in their decision—he's also unique compared to Bush in that sense. He's a very unimpressive pitcher but has the ability to keep his team in the game for a stretch of about a month's worth of starts.
Ruben Amaro Jr. requires himself to acquire some sort of All-Star at the trade deadline, so maybe it's a pitcher this year. Going back to the Pat Gillick days, a starting pitcher has been acquired via a trade five of the past six seasons. So again, if an injury or struggles occur, the Phils could welcome a member from outside their organization to the rotation.