Should Charlie Manuel and the Philadelphia Phillies start Joe Blanton or Roy Halladay in Game 4 of the NLCS?
After the San Francisco Giants won Game 4, the Phillies are in danger of losing the series in San Francisco.
The Giants will most likely stick to their scheduled starter, Madison Bumgarner.
San Francisco could now possibly have Tim Lincecum pitching at home in Game 5 with the chance to advance to the 2010 World Series.
Both pros and cons accompany either decision, but most Philadelphia fans will certainly be calling for Roy Halladay to start Game 4.
Here are some reasons why Joe Blanton should start and some reasons why Charlie Manuel should start Roy Halladay.
The Philadelphia Phillies are currently trailing 2-1 in the NLCS, but the starting pitching has not been the problem.
In their two losses, the Phillies' offense has only managed to score three runs in Game 1 and zero runs in Game 3. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels did not necessarily pitch great games, but they certainly gave their team a chance to win.
The offense's performance is Game 1 was not awful, but the effort in Game 3 was unacceptable. In the third, fourth, and seventh innings of the game, the Phillies left two runners on base.
The top of the fourth was the worst one, as there were runners on first and second with one out. In the bottom half of the inning, the San Francisco Giants score two runs and never looked back.
Baseball games are all about momentum, and the Giants capitalized on it.
Basically, starting Roy Halladay does not guarantee the Phillies a win. Not with the way the offense is playing.
Roy Halladay is a better pitcher than Joe Blanton. But who is the better starter for Game 4, Blanton on full rest or Halladay on short rest?
Halladay has not exactly pitched well against the San Francisco Giants. Here are his statistics in his regular season and postseason starts against the Giants:
April 26th: 7 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 104 pitches
NLCS, Game 1: 7 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, 105 pitches
Those two performances are nearly identical and they came on games where Roy Halladay was on full rest.
Here is how Blanton pitched in one regular season start against the Giants:
August 18th: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, 97 pitches
Both pitchers have performed about the same against San Francisco, but Joe Blanton has not started a game since September 29th. He pitched seven shutout innings in a game against the Washington Nationals.
Based on stats in games against the Giants, no pitcher has a real advantage.
Short rest is definitely a major factor in the decision whether or not to start Roy Halladay in Game 4.
Not only would Halladay pitch on short rest, but so would Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt would be pushed up to Game 5 while Hamels would be pushed up to Game 6. If there is a Game 7, Halladay would have to pitch on short rest once again.
Cole Hamels has never pitched on short rest, but said earlier this week that he would do it if necessary.
The question is whether or not you want to risk the quality of "H20" by pitching all three members on short rest. Halladay has already pitched 259 2/3 innings this year.
One possible solution would be pitching Joe Blanton in Game 5 if the Philadelphia Phillies win Game 4. Although that might defeat the purpose of starting Halladay a game early.
Charlie Manuel's decision may be based on how well he thinks the Phillies' offense can hit Madison Bumgarner.
The Philadelphia Phillies have never faced the 21-year-old pitcher, so there are no reliable stats that can help Charlie Manuel.
One fact that does not favor the Phillies is that Bumgarner is a lefty. Philadelphia's two best power hitters, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, are left-handed and both have yet to record a RBI in the NLCS.
Utley was awful on both sides of the ball in Game 3, so his play may not improve against Madison Bumgarner.
On the other hand, he is only 21 years old and may crack under the pressure of playing the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies must get to him early, or Bumgarner will gain more confidence as the game goes on.
With the way Philadelphia is swinging the bats, it is hard for Charlie Manuel to be too confident in any pitching matchup.
Here is a terrible, frightening scenario for Philadelphia fans. What if Roy Halladay pitches in Game 4, and the Phillies lose?
That means it would be Roy Oswalt against Tim Lincecum in Game 5, a possible clinching game for the San Francisco Giants.
Not only that, but the Phillies would have to win three games in a row when all of the starting pitchers are on short rest.
Starting Roy Halladay may be a move of desperation on the part of Charlie Manuel. That sign of desperation may negatively affect the Philadelphia Phillies.
However, Philadelphia's offense may finally wake up if they realize how big of a game it is. The Phillies have performed well under pressure during the last three years, but who knows how they will play this time around, especially in a big, San Francisco ballpark.
My opinion is that starting Roy Halladay means that the Philadelphia Phillies MUST win Game 4.
Even if they lose Game 4 with Joe Blanton starting, it is very possible that the Phillies would win three games in a row with "H20" on full rest. Game 7 could possibly feature a combination of Hamels and Halladay.
It comes down to whether or not Charlie Manuel wants to take the chance of facing an elimination game in San Francisco against Tim Lincecum by starting Joe Blanton in Game 4.
After weighing all of the factors, how much of a risk is it to start Joe Blanton? I would say it is more risky to pitch Roy Halladay in Game 4.
It may very well be the toughest decision of Charlie Manuel's career.