Kendrick's Last Stand?

Kyle Kendrick got the nod for the start against Florida, but it wasn't exactly a decisive nod. If he doesn't produce, the Phillies will look at what could Happ-en next.

Kyle Kendrick is a good pitcher. He's developed some bad habits on the mound and his confidence has been shaky, at best, but he's a good pitcher. Last year, he was a key piece of the starting rotation, jumping from Double-A Reading to the majors when the Phillies needed help in the rotation.

While Kendrick has been inconsistent for much of the season, the only consistency that he's found has come in the last six weeks and that's been consistently bad. Kendrick's August ERA was 6.08 and he didn't even average five innings per outing. Now, with some extended time off thanks to a rotation shuffle that put Cole Hamels up against the Mets in New York, Kendrick returns to the mound against a sinking Florida Marlins team that is just looking for someone to beat up on.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Monday that 45-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer is being considered to start on short rest Thursday night against the Brewers in the opener of a four-game series that might have wild-card implications. Moyer will throw a bullpen session Tuesday.

"Talking to Jamie, he thinks he's capable of doing it," Dubee said.

The Phils also could give rookie lefty J.A. Happ a spot start Thursday night, leaving Moyer to pitch on his normal rest Friday night and ace lefty Cole Hamels to pitch on an extra day of rest Saturday. Barring any other schedule changes, Myers, Moyer and Hamels - the Phillies' top three starters - would be lined up to pitch in the final regular-season series, September 26-28 against Washington.

First, though, they need a strong outing from Kendrick.

"Hopefully his head is clear," said Dubee, who has taken a tough-love approach to Kendrick. "I had him go down to the bullpen, mingle with those guys a little and clear his head. I think he's going to be more aggressive. His attitude seems better."

"There's no doubt I've had some bad outings, but I've had some good ones this year, too. I just have to be aggressive and get back on the right track," said Kendrick of his struggles.

As for Happ, he's simply waiting in the wings, doing as much throwing as he can and trying to stay ready should the Phillies need him. Another stumble by Kendrick against Florida could lead to an early exit for him, accompanied by an early entrance for Happ. It could also lead to a change in the rotation, with Kendrick spending more time with the boys in the 'pen.

The good news is that in his two previous starts against Florida, Happ is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA.

While Happ waits to find out his fate, he's added a piece of hardware for his mantle. Happ received the 2008 Paul Owens Award as the best pitcher in the Phillies' minor-league system. It was a redeeming honor for Happ, who went 4-6 with a 5.02 ERA last season at Triple-A Ottawa while pitching through an elbow injury. Happ was 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA in 24 games this season at Lehigh Valley.

"It's definitely an honor," Happ said. "I was happy to bounce back. It was tough mentally as well as physically. I guess you can say lesson learned. I'm not sure if I could go back that I wouldn't do the same thing. But some rest and rehab definitely helped."

Meanwhile, another starter is simply languishing around in the bullpen waiting for a chance to pitch. Adam Eaton hasn't pitched for the Phillies since being recalled from his stint in the minors, which didn't have the rejuvenating effect that the same type of stint did with Brett Myers earlier in the season. Eaton's best chance of getting into a game is for the Phillies to be involved in a blowout, but other than that, it's likely that he's simply done for the season and will be one of the decisions that the Phillies will have to face during the winter months.

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