After Hamels, rotation order undecided

After Hamels, rotation order undecided

PHILADELPHIA -- While the Rays and Red Sox slug it out over who will represent the American League in the World Series, the Phillies have a few off-days to work out, stay sharp -- and plan ahead.

Ace left-hander Cole Hamels, coming off an MVP performance in the National League Championship Series, will have plenty of time to rest and appears to be a lock to start Game 1 of the World Series for the Phillies in either Boston or St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

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Beyond the 24-year-old lefty, however, there are no guarantees for how the Phillies' rotation will line up.

The Phils will play the first two games of the World Series on the road, a place where Brett Myers -- their Game 2 starter in the NL Division Series and NLCS -- has struggled this season. The right-hander was 3-8 with a 6.21 ERA in 16 road starts in 2008.

Myers has suggested that he feeds off the energy provided by the Citizens Bank Park crowd, and it showed when he posted a 7-5 record and 3.01 ERA in 14 home starts in the regular season. The right-hander also had home-field advantage for both of the postseason starts he has made this year. He won both games, though he pitched much better in the first round against the Brewers than he did against the Dodgers.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee wasn't ready on Friday afternoon to reveal much about the rotation for the World Series. However, when asked whether Myers' home and road performances would be taken into account in deciding the rotation, Dubee replied: "Not much now."

If the Phillies do decide to go with Hamels and Myers to begin the series, Game 3 presents another question: Should they send Jamie Moyer or Joe Blanton to the mound?

Moyer's rock-solid consistency throughout the regular season earned him the Game 3 slot in both the NLDS and NLCS. Moyer's 16 regular-season wins led the Phils' pitching staff, as he at one point held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 14 consecutive starts.

But the Phils may opt to put Blanton ahead of Moyer in the rotation after seeing Moyer struggle in both of his postseason starts, going 0-2 with a 13.51 ERA (eight earned runs in 5 1/3 innings). Blanton, a July acquisition, has pitched well in two postseason starts, winning the Phils' NLDS clincher against the Brewers and holding the Dodgers to three runs in five innings in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Moyer said that he would likely throw in a simulated game on Saturday.

"I just want to try to get myself as close to where I can be," Moyer said. "Not that I feel like I've lost anything, but I'm trying to maintain where I am. The most important thing to do is try to put yourself in the best situation, so when you're called upon to pitch, you're more prepared."

The Phillies will also need to decide on a designated hitter for games in the AL city. Greg Dobbs, Ryan Howard and Geoff Jenkins each took turns filling that role when the Phils traveled to play the Athletics and Rangers, their only Interleague road games in 2008.

If the Phils decide to have Howard serve as DH, Dobbs could provide more consistent defense at first base in his absence. Howard finished with 19 errors, which led the Major Leagues. Also, having both of their bats in the lineup, with Dobbs' .545 postseason average and Howard's 48 regular-season home runs, doesn't sound too bad for Philadelphia, either.

Pat Burrell isn't the most adept fielder -- manager Charlie Manuel routinely removes Burrell in the late innings for a defensive replacement -- so the Phils might consider using him as the DH. If that's the case, they could shift Jayson Werth to left field and start Jenkins in right.

But these are all things that the Phillies can sort out in the coming days. After all, they've got time to decide.

Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.