Debating which pitcher had a better start to his career with the Phillies is like trying to decide between Rembrandt and Picasso or Maddux and Smoltz. Discussing how to get both Roys and Cole Hamels lined up to pitch against the Atlanta Braves next week at Citizens Bank Park is a worthwhile exercise and one that manager Charlie Manuel admitted would take place soon.
"We'll probably discuss that in the next day or two," Manuel said after his team won for the 13th time in 17 games. "We definitely want to be full speed when we play Atlanta. Dubes and I, we will do a lot of talking about that. We want to go into Atlanta, of course, with our best chance."
Given how little tinkering must be done to line up Hamels, Halladay, and Oswalt for the Braves series, it would seem to be a no-brainer for Manuel and Dubee. All they have to do is move Oswalt's next start up one game so that he pitches Friday against the Washington Nationals instead of Saturday.
Kyle Kendrick or Vance Worley would pitch Saturday, and everybody else would remain on turn. In that scenario, Oswalt would pitch on the usual four days' rest rather than getting an extra day.
Asked if that would be a problem after Sunday's game, Oswalt basically said he would take the ball whenever he was asked through the end of the season.
"We're to the point now where you pitch when you can," he said. "They haven't come to me with anything, but I'll just wait and they can tell me when to pitch."
Watching Oswalt for the last six weeks has left the impression that he'd pitch every day if asked, especially if it meant a chance to get back to the World Series.
"Once you get in the playoffs, it doesn't really matter," Oswalt said. "I've pitched on three days' rest. I've pitched on one day and been in the bullpen the next day."
Oswalt has pitched on three days' rest seven times in his career, including twice during the 2004 playoffs. His record in those games is 5-1 with a 2.82 ERA.
Asked about pitching on four days' rest in his next two starts, Oswalt said, "That's what we do every time we pitch." He added that he did not care if he got an extra day.
Oswalt's mentality and track record are a stark contrast to last year's star pitching acquisition at the trade deadline. As good as Cliff Lee was for the Phillies, he had never pitched on three days' rest, and he did not do it during the team's World Series run.
Halladay has pitched six times in his career on three days' rest and has gone 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA.
Hamels is the only one of the Big Three who has never pitched on short rest, but he should not have to between now and the end of the season.
What is so nice for Manuel and Dubee is that they should not be concerned about lining up their top three pitchers for the postseason if their battle for a fourth straight postseason berth goes into the final weekend of the season when they play at Atlanta.
Put Halladay, Oswalt, or Hamels on the mound for a Game 1 in the playoffs and the team and manager should be confident that the Phillies can win.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover
at 215-854-2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.