The Philadelphia Phillies Season Opener Against the Houston Astros Today: Starting Rotation Going the Distance

With the Philadelphia Phillies regular season opener today at Citizens Bank Park with the Houston Astros, the organization cleaned house.  Luis Castillo, the former New York Mets candidate for Chase Utley‘s position, did not make the Phillies team, as expected.  However, it was not for the lack of trying.  Now Wilson Valdez will most likely take over while second baseman Chase Utley goes on the DL with closer Brad Lidge.  For Brad Lidge this will be his third time in the past four seasons on the disabled list while Jose Contreras will take over the role of closer with Ryan Madson on partial duty, according to manager Charlie Manuel.  To add some optimism for Phillies fans, San Francisco Giants reliever Brian Wilson, the devastating closer who put an end to Phillies post-season last year, will also be on the disabled list.  Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Phillies will be without Chase Utley with no timetable for his return.  This lack of clarity on his return may be a bit disconcerting for some fans. Lastly, former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth day ended yesterday with a shutout of the Washington Nationals by the Atlanta Braves of the score of 2-0.  This may bring a smile to some Phillies fans as he accused Cliff Lee recently of stealing the money of the salary cap needed to keep him on the Phillies roster.

Today’s season opener at 1 o’ clock in the afternoon will begin off on a gloomy and dank day and end with some cold and bitter sunshine — kind like the Philadelphia Phillies season potentially.  Roy Halladay will start for the Phillies, and Brett Myers, a former Phillies player himself, will start for the Houston Astros.  Halladay, who was won both the NL Cy Young Award last season and AL Cy Young Award in 2003, is one ace pitcher to start for the Phillies.  He has improved significantly since 2006.  Halladay had less earned runs from 78 to 68 while pitched 3o innings more, increased number of strikeouts from 132 to 219, and a better ERA from 3.19 to 2.44.  On the opposite side of the ball, Brett Myers of the Houston Astros has improved since 2006 as well although his improvement has lacked consistency.  Comparably, Myers’ number of earned runs has decreased from 86 to to 78 while pitching 25 innings more, his number of strikeouts have remained relatively consistent from 189 to 180 and had a slightly better ERA from 3.91 to 3.14.

With the way last season, Charlie Manuel has mentioned to his starting pitchers may pitch full games, if needed. He suggested that Cliff Lee may be throwing 100 pitches in his start, and I imagine Halladay may be on a similar schedule with his number of pitches.  With Brad Lidge out and the relief duty split between Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson, the starting four of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels might be pitching full games sometimes.  Concerning the reliever situation, Contreras doesn’t have an overall impressive ERA of 4.55, but his ERA improved last season with 3.34.  Ryan Madson seems to be the better closer however.  His ERA had improved significantly from 2006 with 5.76  to 2.55.  This is Charlie Manuel’s decision for now on his reliever, but as the season progresses, the reliever situation may change.

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