DENVER -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had always intended to start J.A. Happ on Sunday night. With an assist from Mother Nature, he'll be able to do so without first having had to take the gamble on how effective Pedro Martinez might have been amid the wintry conditions that arrived in Denver this weekend.
When Major League Baseball announced early Saturday morning that projected frigid temperatures had led it to postpone Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Coors Field until Sunday night, Manuel opted to tab Happ to start against the Rockies instead of Martinez, who was scheduled to start if the game had been played Saturday.
"I think I've had a lot of anticipation kind of throughout the year hoping that we'd be in this position and hoping that I could help us in any way possible," said Happ, who will be making his first career postseason start. "Obviously getting a start, I think, is going to be a great opportunity. And I'm definitely looking forward to it."
2009: 2 G (1 GS), 1-0, 4.82 Career: 2 G (1 GS), 1-0, 4.82
Loves to face.: Troy Tulowitzki, 0-for-5, 3 Ks Hates to face: Dexter Fowler 1-for-3, 2B, BB
Loves to face: Ryan Howard, 0-4, K Hates to face: Raul Ibanez, 4-8, 2B, HR, RBI
Why he'll win: Limited Rockies to .139 BA and .184 OBP this year
Why he'll win: 2 L since start of August
Pitcher beware: 1-2, 4.84 ERA and .344 opp. BA in final five starts
Pitcher beware: 5.73 ERA at home in '09
Bottom line: Past dominance brings confidence
Bottom line: He won't beat himself
With Happ making this start, the Phillies will have the opportunity to start solely left-handed pitchers throughout this five-game series. Cliff Lee will be on regular rest to start Monday night's Game 4, and if a Game 5 is necessary, Cole Hamels will also be available on regular rest.
Martinez reacted in a receptive manner when he was told that he'll be used out of the bullpen for the remainder of this series. The former Cy Young Award winner, who will turn 38 on Oct. 25, has pitched just four innings since the Braves knocked him out of his Sept. 19 start after just three innings.
"He was very professional about it," Manuel said. "Of course he wants to pitch. He's just like everybody else. He came here to pitch and he did a good job for us."
Uncertainty surrounding Martinez and the desire to take advantage of the opportunity to start as many southpaws as possible against the Rockies lineup served as the primary reasons that Manuel opted to go with Happ, who would have been the Game 4 starter Sunday night had the original schedule stayed in place.
During a four-pitch relief appearance in Game 2 on Thursday night, Happ got hit under his left knee with a line drive. The discomfort has quickly disappeared, and the left-hander, who will turn 27 on Oct. 29, had no problems while playing catch at Coors Field on Saturday afternoon.
"Today was already a lot better than yesterday as far as how the leg responded right away, even getting out of bed," Happ said. "So tomorrow I expect to be even better."
While Lee became the club's ace when he was acquired from the Indians before July's Trade Deadline, Happ was arguably the most dependable member of the Phillies pitching staff throughout the season. He moved into the rotation on May 23 and proceeded to go 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his first 18 starts.
Happ's strongest effort during this stretch occurred in Philadelphia on Aug. 5, when he tossed a four-hit shutout against the Rockies. The rookie left-hander also allowed one hit in 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings against Colorado during an April 10 game played at Coors Field.
"I had success the last time I threw against them," Happ said. "But tomorrow's a new day, and that was awhile back. I'm definitely going to try to take the same aggressiveness that I had that game that I threw and try to pitch the same way and stay within myself. And hopefully I'll have success that way."
Happ's candidacy for National League Rookie of the Year took a hit in September, when in five starts he went 2-1 with a 4.84 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .344 batting average.
Still, even with this fresh in his memory, Manuel has no trepidation about going with Happ, who showed some of his poise and more importantly gained experience pitching in a hostile postsesason environment while allowing one run in three relief innings against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the 2008 National League Championship Series.
"I think he's ready to pitch," Manuel said. "He's got tremendous poise. He gets the ball and throws it. He has nothing to worry about. Just go out and pitch the way he can, that's all."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.