In the biggest game of the season so far, the Phillies are going to start Joe Blanton. Take a second and read that sentence again. Yep, Heavy B is going to take the mound tomorrow, whether we like it or not.
Faced with a 2-1 hole, Charlie will stick with his original plan instead of moving Halladay up a day to start on short rest. It's obvious that Charlie just feels more comfortable with his guys going on normal rest, and you can't really fault him for that. Although he may change his mind in the morning, it appears the earliest we'll be seeing Doc is Thursday night.
I honestly have to admit I'm a little surprised. A lot was made last year of the Phillies not wanting to pitch Cliff Lee on short rest (which the Rangers refused to do this year as well). When the Phillies basically "swapped" Lee for Halladay in the offseason many people looked at Halladay's ability to pitch on short rest as one reason the upgrade made sense. In six career starts on short rest, Halladay has gone 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA. While that's a small sample size, it certainly looks like Halladay can handle it. Plus, you have to think Halladay would be pumped up by the idea, since he's so close to the World Series title he craves so badly. It doesn't appear he'll get that chance.
However, Halladay's ability to pitch on short rest isn't really the thing I'm concentrating on the most. It's the fact that Joe Blanton hasn't pitched in a meaningful game since October 3rd. That was a one inning appearance against the Braves on the last day of the season. His last start was even longer ago, back on September 29th. That's a long layoff, especially for someone now tasked with saving the Phillies season (although the bats could score some runs and help that out too). Heavy B is certainly going to have to be at his best.
Ultimately this decision will be judged by what happens in the game tomorrow. If the Phillies win, suddenly they have taken back home field and have Halladay ready for Game 5. If they lose, they are going to need H20 to win three straight games (which, while incredibly difficult, is something those three could certainly pull off). Charlie Manuel has pretty much pulled all the right strings the past few years, I just hope this move pays off as well. If not...well let's just not think about that right now.