As Playoffs Near, Jamie Moyer May Slow Phillies Drive

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst IAugust 6, 2009

PHOENIX - JULY 29:  Pitcher Jamie Moyer#50 of the Philadelphia Phillies sits in the dugout during the major league baseball game against Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 29, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Phillies 4-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The story of Jamie Moyer is one of amazement. He's a pitcher who has made his living throwing at off speeds and has garnered 256 wins while doing so.

He is the 10th-winningest lefty in baseball history. And this season, his 10 wins are tops on the NL East leading Phillies.

But the story I am about to write is one familiar to Moyer during his tumultuous 23-year career.

Despite the lack of pitching depth in their rotation, the Phillies can no longer afford the inconsistency that comes with the Moyer package. As a fan, I hope I am wrong like the other scribes who said the same thing two years ago. 

One example are these words from RotoWorld.Com:

"Jamie Moyer was pounded for six runs over five innings in an 8-3 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday night. Moyer continues his shaky season. He allowed six hits, including a homer, while walking four. He now has a 5.55 ERA through 22 starts this season. He should be the obvious choice to move to the bullpen when Pedro Martinez arrives, but he likely won't."

Phillies youngster J.A. Happ was mentioned as a candidate for the Phillies bullpen and Rodrigo Lopez has already been moved there.

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But with the trade for Cliff Lee, will Moyer finally be pushed out of the rotation?

This much is certain: Cole Hamels, Lee, Joe Blanton. Before Lee's arrival, Moyer had been the third starter. Once Lee came and J.A. Happ received a look, Moyer became the fourth starter.

What do we make of the sly veteran now?  

Moyer started this season 3-5, but has rebounded to win seven of his last 10 starts. In interviews, Moyer voiced that he is the same pitcher and can work through any slump.

And he has.

But watching tonight's game against the Colorado Rockies, Happ pitched a complete game shutout for his eighth win. It is his second complete game shutout of the season.

With his performance, Happ has solidified a spot as a starter. But will that make him a playoff starter? The question is if Charlie Manuel will give the youngster preference over Moyer and the coming Pedro Martinez.

A lot depends on the latter's performance when he pitches as to who the fifth starter will be for the rest of the season. The Phillies can afford to keep Moyer on the active roster the rest of this season. But I can't envision them leaving Moyer off the postseason roster.

But his skills aren't that of a bullpen pitcher; and no one should expect that. So where does that leave him?

Since arriving in Philadelphia, Moyer has been nothing short of a class act.

But the Phillies are now in the business of winning championships; and if they know what's best for them, they will do just as they did with fan favorite Chris Coste, and cut the cord on a pitcher who has given them all he has left.