Back in 1948, the Boston Braves had Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain at the top of the rotation and the famous poem was, “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain.”
Well, the Philadelphia Phillies prayed for rain and got a dream rotation setup of Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels for an important early-season series starting Friday against the visiting Washington Nationals. On Wednesday, five inches of rain dumped on Philadelphia — the most since Hurricane Sandy — and postponed a game against the New York Mets.
That, coupled with a regular day off on Thursday, gave manager Ryne Sandberg the luxury of a couple of starts at the back end and the dream rotation he wanted.
It was the right call because the Phillies have to win now, and a sweep or taking at least two of three against the Nationals could be the start of something big. The Phils have been so inconsistent in their hitting that they could use a few close wins right now. For that to happen, they cannot rely on the back end of the rotation that includes Roberto Hernandez and Kyle Kendrick.
When former manager Charlie Manuel was in charge, he and then-pitching coach Rich Dubee refused to use rain or off days to alter the rotation. They believed in letting the chips fall where they may, and the chips often did not fall right. Sandberg has his chips lined up and he’s going all-in for the sweep. Lee, Burnett and Hamels and rain doesn’t rhyme but, if they contribute to a sweep this weekend, that will be poetic precipitation for Phils fans.