Tonight Pedro Martinez struck out 11 batters in a minor league rehab start. He threw 82 pitches — 60 strikes — and showed that he’s ready for big league action.
The only question is, who will lose his spot in the Phillies’ rotation once Pedro comes on board?
Lots of people have lots of theories about this. My favorite belongs to the Philadelphia Daily News’ David Murphy, who seems to be a little conflicted, and must be getting paid by the inch.
Here’s my take:
There are two candidates to get bumped from the Phils’ rotation.
In one corner we have Jamie Moyer, who is old and seems like a really nice guy. Both this season and last, Moyer has won more games than any Phillies pitcher. But in 2009 his ERA has ballooned to 5.55 — the third highest in the NL among qualified pitchers. What’s more, his FIP and BABIP indicate that he hasn’t been particularly lucky or unlucky this season. He really is this bad.
In the other corner we have J.A. Happ, who has emerged as a (leading?) candidate for rookie of the year. Happ is in the top-10 in the NL in ERA, but his 4.21 FIP suggests he probably won’t stay there long, while his .254 BABIP is probably a little low to sustain.
Happ could return to the bullpen, where he has excelled. Moyer, on the other hand, probably isn’t suited to a bullpen role, as it takes him too long to warmup.
The conclusion? This is an easy decision. Even if Happ’s luck runs out, he’s still a better pitcher than Moyer, and the numbers back it up. Also, as Nick pointed out a month ago, if the Phillies cut Moyer now (or put him on the DL with an imaginary injury) they’ll save $4MM in 2010.
Not that this should matter much, but keeping Happ in the rotation will also afford him experience starting high-leverage games, which will benefit him in future seasons.
Once the playoffs start, the Phils can move either Happ or Martinez to the bullpen, depending on which one has the hotter hand. But for now, Happ has earned the right to stay in the rotation.
Jamie Moyer is a great guy, but there’s no room for a 5.55 ERA on a championship team.
From David Murphy’s High Cheese blog comes word that Happ is staying in the rotation, and the Phils might use a six-man rotation. “Happ’s not going out of anywhere,” Amaro says. Good grief.