Phillies Option Pivetta as Bullpen Questions Abound
Phillies starter Nick Pivetta made it through just four and two-thirds innings on Thursday afternoon, at which point the Phillies pulled him due to a high pitch count. Pivetta departed after 107 pitches with a 2-0 lead and one runner on. Then the bullpen came along.
Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara stepped to the plate batting just .111 against left-handed pitching. So, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin summoned his only left-handed pitcher from the bullpen, Joely Rodriguez. Filling the left-handed specialist role by default, Rodriguez has not met the challenge.
Rodriguez entered the game with left-handed hitters batting .294 against him. That could explain why 60% (6 out of 10) inherited runners scored off of Rodriguez heading into Thursday. Mazara would be the fifth walk Rodriguez has allowed to a left-handed batter this season.
Besides the one inherited runner, Rodriguez would go on to allow seven earned runs of his own, getting just two outs in the process. The Phillies need to stop the bleeding in a most desperate way.
The Phillies announced at the conclusion of the game that Pivetta was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Aaron Nola will return and start on Sunday in Pittsburgh. But before the Phillies land in Pittsburgh, they may have to consider some additional options, even if it includes adding someone other than Nola for two days.
Ben Lively could re-join the Phillies for two days in the same role that he has been on the roster two other times before: to be used in case of an emergency. Such a move would do no favors to anyone. To make this work, the Phillies should start trying other options.
The 40-man roster is currently full, and they just may have to start clearing some space.
Adam Morgan has done nothing to prove that he is worthy of a spot. After leaving the big league club with a 10.50 earned run average in two outings, Morgan has not been much better as a reliever for the IronPigs. In 10 appearances, Morgan is 0-1 with a 6.08 earned run average.
Morgan is a good candidate to pass through waivers and be outrighted to Triple-A. The Phillies should take that chance now. The club could also do the same with Rodriguez. If Rodriguez cannot perform as a left-handed reliever should, he might not be a candidate to be picked up. Rodriguez cleared waivers once before.
At Triple-A Lehigh Valley the Phillies are getting a perfect season from Pat Venditte at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As of May 18th, Venditte has not allowed a run, earned or otherwise. The splits are kind of unclear, given that Venditte's match ups may not always be straight, but lefties are batting .103 off of him at Triple-A.
Another perfect reliever so for for the IronPigs is left-handed pitcher Hoby Milner. Milner was taken by the Cleveland Indians in the Rule 5 draft in December, but returned to the Phillies at the end of Spring Training. Left-handed batters are batting just .083 against Milner. Unfortunately for the Phillies, who have an immediate need, Milner pitched 2 1/3 innings in an almost mop-up role on Thursday.
Also excelling at Triple-A is former Mets, Braves, and Red Sox reliever Pedro Beato. Beato is closing games for the IronPigs and has converted 11 of 12 save opportunities. Beato is pitching to a 1.86 earned run average. Beato is a right-handed pitcher, but has not been scored upon in his last 10 appearances.
The Phillies could also turn to newly-acquired Casey Fien. Fien joined the IronPigs after a trade with the Mariners and combined with Triple-A Tacoma is 0-1 with a 2.35 earned run average. Fien was known to give up home runs last season while pitching with the Twins and Dodgers but could be a better option for the Phillies.
Venditte, Milner, Beato, or Fien all need to be added to the 40-man roster before the Phillies consider bringing any of them to the big club. Maybe the Phillies are trying to pass Morgan, Rodriguez, or another player through waivers as I write this. No matter what, the Phillies will add another player to the roster before they open a series tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Hopefully they find some relief.