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Pedro is looking good

The Phillies have won ten in a row, the Mets stink, and even though I'm a fan, I'm not sure the Braves have a high enough gear in their transmission to catch up. In light of that, Philadelphia probably doesn't need much more help this season. Unfortunately for their competition, however, they look like they could be getting it:

Pedro Martinez has taken a "really big step" forward after throwing 64 pitches over four innings in a simulated game. The Philadelphia Phillies' new right-hander faced hitters for the first time in 11 days on Tuesday and afterwards said he was excited about the outing.

"Real, real good," Martinez said. "Four innings, I was able to do that. I didn't feel tired. I felt like I could still do a little bit more."

Yeah, anyone can feel good at the driving range and then go out and hit for crap, but the fact that Pedro felt good after throwing that many pitches is a good sign. Given his stamina issues over the past couple of years I'm dubious that he'll be a truly effective starter, but if Charlie Manuel can break conventional bullpen habits, Martinez could certainly be useful as an uber-reliever, serving as a setup guy sometimes, a spot starter other times and a secondary closer whenever the need arises. Kind of a Swiss Army knife of a swingman, deployed in such a way as to better preserve the other arms and to maybe even allow starters to come back on shorter rest during the playoffs.

Little things like that can make the difference.