With Pedro Martinez supposedly ready to join the big-league club after a fantastic outing in Reading (AA) on Wednesday night, and possibly in line for a start next Tuesday in Chicago, the Phillies have six guys capable of being in the starting rotation.
All things considered, this is a good problem to have.
At a time of the season when many playoff contenders are trying to figure out where they might be able to find an extra arm for the rotation or the bullpen, the Phillies have too many arms to go around.
So why not let all six of them pitch?
The rumors have been swirling that rookie J.A. Happ would be headed back to bullpen (where he started the year), but after throwing his second complete game shutout of the year on Wednesday night, it seems foolish to banish the potential Rookie of the Year.
By the way, his two complete games put him one ahead of a certain World Series MVP.
If you want to simply cut out the weakest link in the rotation, it seems that Moyer should be the one to go. His inconsistency and age are working against him, but the Phillies don't seem willing to move him into the bullpen (where he probably would not be effective), and they certainly won't option him to Triple-A.
So that leaves the possibility of putting Pedro in the bullpen and leaving the rotation as is. I think this is the best solution because I'm not convinced Pedro can pitch well for multiple innings at the big-league level right now, but he could be valuable as a power-arm in the 'pen.
However, the Phillies seem convinced that Pedro is going to be a starter.
Truth be told, there is no easy solution here. But even before GM Ruben Amaro hinted at the idea of a six man rotation, the idea had already crossed my mind.
It seems like the best possible solution, at least for now, and with a six game edge in the division, this seems like a perfect time to experiment a little.
The Phillies should give each of the six a total of three starts. That's 18 games, which brings us to basically the beginning of September. If everything is going well, they could keep that formula going until the end of the season, because an extra day off between starts can only mean that the arms are a little more rested going into October.
If things don't go well—say, if Moyer has some bad outings or Pedro can't go past the fourth inning—then you can make the decision about who to cut based on actual on the field performance, instead of just speculation.
I'll say it again: The Phillies are well in control of the division, so now is the perfect time to try this little experiment.
It seems like a win-win to me: keep everyone a little more rested as you go into late September and October, and let each of them prove that they deserve a spot on the rotation.