Journal Register News Service

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies haven't named a starter for Thursday, when they begin a four-game series with wild-card leader Milwaukee.

But after J.A. Happ took over for battered right-hander Kyle Kendrick in the second inning Tuesday night against the Marlins, all signs point to the oldest player in baseball pitching on short rest.

Jamie Moyer breezed through seven shutout innings in a 6-2 win over the Mets Sunday. Although the coaches still were going through the decision-making process, Moyer threw a side session before Tuesday's game.

"Very well," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said when asked about Moyer's side work.

Since Happ entered Tuesday's game, the Phillies arguably have two options besides Moyer.

Cole Hamels, who pitched the night end of Sunday's doubleheader, could pitch on three day's rest. That's very unlikely, since Hamels 1) has an illustrious relationship with the disabled list, and 2) leads the National League in innings pitched.

The other option is Adam Eaton, whose general awfulness makes him an even more unlikely option.

Is there any risk throwing a 45-year-old pitcher out to the mound a day early?

"I don't think there's much risk at all," Dubee said. "I think when you look at him, and you think of a guy that generally controls his delivery, he knows that he can't overexert himself because he's not going to get enough out of it anyway. He has an average fastball.

"I don't think there's a whole lot of danger there. He's very well prepared physically. If we do it, I feel very positive about it."

In his 22-year career, Moyer has started on three days' rest 14 times. Moyer is 5-3 with a 4.12 ERA in those 14 starts.

His last start in that situation was four seasons ago, July 6, 2004. Moyer, then with Seattle, allowed seven runs on 10 hits in a 7-6 loss at Toronto.

Still, Moyer's dependability and durability would likely trump one bad outing four summers ago. If the Phils choose to pitch Moyer Thursday, Hamels would go Friday.

"I want to keep Cole on his fifth day the rest of the season," Dubee said. "If I can keep Cole on his fifth, Jamie on his fifth and Brett (Myers) on that fifth (that would be ideal). I think at this point in the season, you have to throw your best three guys out there as often as possible."

Dubee has a point. His top three starters have been as good as any in the league. Since the All-Star break, the Moyer-Hamels-Myers trio is 14-5 with a 2.59 ERA, numbers that match up with the top trios of their two postseason rivals.

In Milwaukee, CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets and Manny Parra have gone 12-9 with a 2.65 ERA. The Mets threesome of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez is 14-5 with a 2.97 ERA since the break.

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