There are many questions surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies as they finally head into tonight's game at Tampa Bay. The question on every Phillies' fan's mind is, how will they respond after having a week layoff? Other questions, which can only be answered by playing, are: How will the Phils fare on turf? Will they lose the ball in the dome roof? But, perhaps the most pivotal question surrounding the Phillies is: Who is going to DH?
The narrowed-down choices of DH possibilities are as follows: Chris Coste, Eric Bruntlett, and So Taguchi. I only mention right-handed hitters because lefty Scott Kazmir is starting Game One. I'll try to get to the choice I believe Charlie Manuel is going to make through the process of elimination.
Charlie most likely doesn't want to use Eric Bruntlett in the DH slot because he has been substituting Bruntlett for Pat Burrell in the late innings of close games where the Phillies have a slim lead.
Although Burrell has a very high fielding percentage of over .900 for the year and has 12 outfield assists, Manuel likes the speed of Bruntlett over Burrell to get to a ball on which you might have to dive to make a play.
That brings us to Chris Coste. Coste started off the year with a hot bat but has cooled off considerably, to the point where Manuel has not started Coste once in the postseason and used him rather sparingly in the run up to the postseason.
The knock on Coste is that he was over-exposed by having too many at-bats, and now pitchers know where his weak spots are. Also, at age 35, it's easy to understand how Coste may have lost his legs somewhere in the middle of the season.
However, with as much rest as Coste has had in the last two months, there should be no reason that he isn't 100 percent healthy. He should be itching at the opportunity to play in the World Series, whereas only two years ago he was wondering if he'd ever get a chance to play in the major league.
I would guess that 95 percent of Phillies fans are wondering why So Taguchi is even on the roster at this stage of the season. He has been next to atrocious when called upon as a pinch-hitter this year, after leading the league in pinch-hit batting average last year with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Taguchi has not had a hit in four at-bats in the postseason, and most Phillies fans would have rather have young catcher Lou Marson on the roster as an emergency catcher in case Carlos Ruiz gets hurt.
However, Taguchi remains in the lineup, and Manuel has shown that he's not afraid of using Taguchi in the postseason, even if he tries to lay down a sacrifice bunt and pops out like he did against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Don't rule Taguchi out as a DH tonight, because Manuel is an instinctive coach, and he's not afraid to go with his gut feeling.
In the end though, I would be thoroughly surprised if Chris Coste doesn't get the call to DH somewhere around eighth in the lineup tonight. But, whoever ends up being the DH, Phillies fans should feel comfortable trusting their manager, because so far this postseason, he has made the right choice nearly every time he's made a move.