Phillies announce NLCS rotation; Joe Blanton to start Game 4

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Because of the drawn-out nature of the playoffs and all the extra off days the Phillies headed into the postseason knowing they would only need to use a fourth starter twice, at most.

Game 4 of the NLDS is one of those times, and manager Charlie Manuel announced today that Joe Blanton will get the nod.

Game 1: Roy Halladay
Game 2: Roy Oswalt
Game 3: Cole Hamels
Game 4: Joe Blanton
Game 5: Roy Halladay
Game 6: Roy Oswalt
Game 7: Cole Hamels

Manuel left open the possibility that he could skip Blanton if the Phillies were down 0-3 or 1-2 going into Game 4, but that would involve short-rest starts and he’s shown a hesitancy to do that in the past regardless of the pitcher.

Blanton hasn’t started a game since September 29 and he’s obviously not in the same class as Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels, which has a certain segment of the Phillies fan base fretting about having to actually use someone other than The Big Three in a playoff game.

However, he went 6-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break, including beating the Giants with a solid outing in mid-August, and is 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA in 35 career playoff innings. Assuming he eventually wakes up from this nap, the Phillies will be just fine having to use a non-ace once in a seven-game series.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.