Carlos Zambrano did what he needed to, and that was good to see. Making his first minor league start, he threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits and two walks, throwing 31 of his 44-pitches for strikes allowing just the one hit while striking out five and allowing just two fly balls to the outfield. in his first outing for High-A Clearwater on Tuesday.

“Everything was good everything was working my way,” Zambrano told 1010 CBS Radio in Tampa.  “Thank God, everything is going good.  I’m ready for this new opportunity.”

The Phillies haven't revealed a timetable for Zambrano possibly joining their rotation, but speculation is he could replace Tyler Cloud in the rotation after his next minor league start.  Cloyd was lit up for six runs and nine hits in 2 1/3 innings by the Red Sox on Monday.

While the Phillies starting pitching hasn't been the biggest concern, the biggest problem has been in middle relief.  Meanwhile, there is not much ready at the minor-league level and how much longer can you really depend on Cloyd, Jonathan Pettibone and Kyle Kendrick to carry you.

You can – and they very well may – roll the dice on Zambrano should Cloyd stumble badly in his next start on Saturday against the Brewers. The Phillies don't have a lot of other options at the minor league level.

The team has said 21-year old Jesse Biddle (3-4, 3.15 ERA, 1.06 WHIP 66 K's in 54.1 IP) is not big league ready, so he is not an option to be called up.  Former first-round pick Ethan Martin, 24, came over in the Shane Victorino trade and recently had a four game winning streak, but has been average at best at Lehigh Valley with a 4.94 ERA AND 1.43 WHIP.  And while his numbers make him interesting, the history there is not good for 24 year-old Seth Rosin. He has yet to show the consistency you would want to see before calling him up, but his 3-3 with a 3.30 ERA and a very good 1.08 WHIP.  Rosin came over to the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade along with catching prospect Tommy Joseph.

There may be no other options in the not-so-distant future other than Zambrano.

Cloyd is scheduled to start Saturday for the Phillies vs Milwaukee and Zambrano might just need one more minor league start.  He threw just 4 2/3 innings so they will build him up slowly, but he has been throwing and had good success thus far.  Zambrano said he was scheduled to pitch again on Thursday but didn’t know if it was extended spring or with Class-A Clearwater.

Definitely something to keep an eye on.

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