Park Should Be Looking Over His Shoulder

Chan Ho Park has very little room for error as the Phillies fifth starter. After the Mets hammered him in his last start, manager Charlie Manuel started to tread water when he was asked about the future of Park in the Phillies rotation.

If you had to bet on one thing going wrong for the Phillies this season, odds are that Chan Ho Park self-destructing would have been at least even money.

After each of his first two starts, manager Charlie Manuel defended Park and said that he had no plans to take him out of the rotation. At that point, Park had a 9.72 ERA in two starts. Fast forward two starts and Park now has an 9.00 ERA in four starts and Charlie's patience is starting to show a few tatters.

"Happ was a starter last year for us, and we've got some starters in Triple-A baseball. I'm not saying exactly what we're going to do because I don't know yet," was perhaps a somewhat veiled threat delivered by Manuel after Park's last start when he was in trouble in the first inning. J.A. Happ was told to start stretching in that inning, something that Manuel hadn't done in Park's earlier starts.

Park said he doesn't have as much confidence as he did during spring training, when he edged Happ for the fifth starter's job.

Happ was a starter late last season for the Phillies and a pretty good one at that. He started two games against Atlanta in September and pitched well in both games - 12 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 KO, 1 win and a 1.42 ERA - both of which the Phillies won. Happ was also just a little off of Park's pace in camp this spring, but pitched well enough that the Phillies wanted to be sure to keep him on the major league roster.

While Happ could get the call, Kyle Kendrick can't be counted out.

The former major league phenom, who suffered from a weak change-up and a loss of confidence last season - is pitching well at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In fact, Carlos Ruiz, who rehabbed at Lehigh Valley and caught Kendrick in one of his starts, said he was throwing as well as he had ever seen him throw. Toledo hitters also remarked after the game that his change-up was impressive and he hid it well, making it that much tougher to hit.

In five starts with Lehigh Valley, Kendrick is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA. His control has been a little spotty at times, providing the only real flaw in his season so far. Kendrick and Park are also on the same pitching schedule, with both slated to start Wednesday - Park against the Mets and Kendrick against the Mets Triple-A club - for their respective clubs.

Is Carlos Carrasco an option?

Technically, yes, but odds are that he's not going to get a quick call. Carrasco has struggled in his last two starts after buzzing through his first three starts of the season. In his first three starts, Carrasco was 0-1, 2.37 with 19 innings pitched. His last two starts have produced just seven innings of work and he's 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA. When Carrasco gets the call, it's likely going to be on the back of a couple of strong starts, not when he's been struggling.

With Happ and Kendrick as options, it's unlikely that the Phillies would look to any other pitchers for help in their major league rotation.

So, as another rivalry series with the Mets starts, Chan Ho Park can't really be faulted if he takes a quick glance or two toward the bullpen and toward Lehigh Valley. His replacements may be closer than he knows.



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