September has arrived a few days ahead of schedule. Fresh off of winning the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher award and being named to the league’s postseason All-Star team, 25 year-old right-hander Tyler Cloyd has been called up to start in place of Cole Hamels, who is suffering from a stomach bug.
The Phillies’ 18th round pick from 2008 has dominated IL competition in 22 starts, posting a 2.35 ERA over 142 innings pitched. This is despite a precipitous drop in strikeout rate associated with his transition to AAA baseball; he’s whiffed a career-low 16.9% of the hitters he’s faced in 2012, compared to 23% in his near-equally successful stint with Reading in 2011. His walk and home run rates have also more than doubled, but his outcomes obviously haven’t suffered for it. Baseball Prospectus writer and Crashburn Alley cohort Bradley Ankrom summarized him thusly:
Kevin Goldstein added that Cloyd had “not much stuff,” but “tons of moxie, chance to settle [as a fifth starter].” Cloyd’s fringy fastball is supplemented by a change up and a curve, neither of which appear to have raised any eyebrows in the scouting world. In lieu of stuff, Cloyd reportedly can locate — Baseball America rated him as having the best control of the International League for 2012.
Hamels will presumably be back for his next start, unless we’re talking about F. buski, but even so, Cloyd may still have a shot at remaining with the big league club. The Phillies’ starting rotation isn’t exactly in dire need of reinforcement, having endured Roy Halladay’s back issues, Cliff Lee’s misfortune, and Joe Blanton’s departure and still leading the league in xFIP and SIERA (3.57 in both cases). But Vance Worley, who is having trouble missing bats and is coming off of an abortive 4 and 1/3rd inning, 4 runs allowed outing against the Mets last night, may be facing a premature shutdown. He was diagnosed in May with loose bodies in the elbow, and while doctors have assured him their removal can wait until the offseason, the Phillies are out of playoff contention and stand to lose little by moving up the procedure and slotting Cloyd in his stead.
Even failing that, Cloyd, by all accounts, profiles to be a serviceable swing man or long reliever, and could find some footing in that role as the season winds down. Hopefully we’ve learned enough by now to dial back our expectations knob from “baby ace” to “hey, a cheap fifth starter, neat.” And hopefully this profile is familiar enough to the front office that we won’t be griping about how much he’s making in arbitration a few years from now, or, say, giving him 2 years, $7.5 million. Hopefully.
UPDATE As you’d have guessed: