Is another stud on the way for the Philadelphia Phillies after Ken Giles? Will this mystery reliever fill the final seat in the pen?
Please, scroll down for this edition of Genuine Insight: 12 Weeks After.
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Reading people is the answer to their decisions: past, present and future. Also, there is a humanizing element.
There will be a published storyline each week.
12 Weeks After:
In mid-April, Phillies’ decision-makers revealed some of their plans, writers added their opinions, but which team strategy achieved the higher percentage: known or unknown?
Before getting into the individual relievers, this review covers baseball parity and a blueprint for the roles in the bullpen.
If you looked at the standings 3-4 weeks ago, you quickly realized that most franchises were near .500, and the other 30 percent were outside of that range. In other words, the MLB draft, the competitive-balance threshold of $189 million and the multi-tiered playoffs with two wild cards were the reasons. But until they had it, fans wanted parity.
Initially, the Phils needed a right-handed middle reliever, a long man and a third arm for the front of the pen. Around mid-April, the original thinking was to keep place holders–Mario Hollands, Jeff Manship and Luis Garcia–and demote second-half hopefuls: an incentive to develop their arsenal at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Fact is returning to Triple-A is the most dreaded assignment. The idea was that by the trading deadline Ruben Amaro Jr. might have in-house solutions for the relief corps.
In this section are the competitors for those three openings. Early on, three pitchers were sent down to take their lumps with the IronPigs, not with the parent club: BJ Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus and Brad Lincoln. Aside from Hollands as a valuable third southpaw, some others were Ethan Martin, Giles, Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont. Also, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez could have entered the picture in the rotation or bullpen.
Is the surprise hurler among the eight nurtured arms who spent some time in the minors during 2014?
With Lincoln, management’s thinking was to prepare him for long relief. He had primarily worked four innings each in half of his appearances at Lehigh Valley before he took Jonathan Pettibone‘s slot in the rotation due to the starter’s injury. In fact, Lincoln went 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA for June. However, he was not the emergency starter for the second game of that recent makeup doubleheader against the Braves because the brain trust feared he would not clear waivers after that one outing.
While the weeks slowly passed, De Fratus, Rosenberg, Martin and Giles presented their cases for an MLB shot. Any similarity in their path to and/or from Philly is coincidental.
Is Martin the one who is about to fulfill his promising future?
Of the fireballers, De Fratus had a good run at Triple-A prior to three clinkers immediately before his injury-replacement call-up. That stated, he also had notched 16 consecutive solid showings at the major league level before three suspect appearances in July. Number 30 is streaky with strings of good or bad performances.
Rosenberg took a line drive off his head during his second outing with the IronPigs on April 28 and returned from the DL on May 25. After his reactivation, he excelled and received a promotion back to the show. In Philly, however, he has been inconsistent even in a small role, which is currently the only unclaimed slot in the relief corps.
Since Martin had some experience in the majors, he received a quick call-up after his rehab. But his second two-inning stint showed a diminished velocity of two mph from 92-95 mph to 90-93 mph. This alarmed the higher-ups, who replaced him with Rosenberg, but Martin’s troubles continued at Triple-A. The problem is the fluctuating velocity on his heater.
Giles replaced the injured Adams in Philly. Before that call-up on June 7, Giles issued too many walks, and his stay at Lehigh Valley would probably have been longer. That said, his addition highlighted the instability of the red pinstripes’ pen. However, realizing the golden opportunity at hand, he has been nothing short of spectacular.
The mystery stud’s fastball hits the mid-90s, but who is he?
Two other relievers are Horst and Aumont. Since Horst cleared waivers and returned to the IronPigs, the only difference is he is off the 40-man roster. Because he’s a lefty, he has an outside shot but the stopper is his command: five or more free passes per nine innings. Aumont, on the other hand, failed again as an injury-replacement call-up. Yes, he has MLB closer stuff, but he issues six or more walks per nine frames: a huge stumbling block.
At the present time, three pitchers are claiming seats in the bullpen: Hollands, De Fratus and Giles. Hollands still has not allowed a run against same-side batters, which represents 45.6 percent of his outs. Additionally, De Fratus and Giles have shown signs of being the right-handed answers for the relief corps.
Without a reactivated Adams, one spot is there for the taking, and neither Rosenberg nor Martin has stepped up.
Lastly, Gonzalez had three short clunkers at Single-A Clearwater, before he rested a dead arm. On the bright side, his heater touched 95 mph, but his walk-per-inning control allowed the opposition to hunt fastballs in the strike zone.
Gonzalez returned from his rest in a relief role at Clearwater before going to Double-A Reading. But he has only exhibited stamina up to 40 pitches–1 or 2 solid frames. He has appeared in six Double-A games, hurled eight innings, punched out 15 to only four walks, and is three for three in save opportunities with a 1.13 ERA. If he continues this progression, he’ll find himself stopping in Lehigh Valley on his way to Philly (Reading stats for Gonzalez are through July 17).
The appraisal here is that Gonzalez will be dominate out of the pen for the red pinstripes in August.
Expanded Storyline: Uncovered Phillies’ Plan for Relief (complementary piece) *
* Tables were causing computer problems and may return at a later date.
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