2013 Phillies Report Card: Mike Stutes
Michael Stutes was an interesting player in 2011, an ascending young reliever who debuted in late April and stuck the rest of the year. He wasn’t appreciably better than, say, pre-injury David Herndon, but he looked like he might be able to stick around for a bit.
Injuries seriously derailed the intrigue. After undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery and appearing in just six games in 2012, Stutes dealt with biceps tendinitis through the majority of 2013, missing three months (plus nearly all of April and May after being passed over for Phillippe Aumont out of spring training). So, it’s safe to say the road has been a bit rocky for the young man.
There are few things to be excited about when it comes to the Phillies’ bullpen, a collection of youngish arms with diminishing projectability that, with the exception of Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo, all seemed to take a step or two back in 2013. Stutes is no exception. In 16 appearances, Stutes recorded 17.2 innings, striking out just nine and walking eight. Nothing about his 2012 or ’13 is contained in a meaningful sample, but what little there is to observe is concerning.
Consider this data from BrooksBaseball. Stutes, upon his return in September, threw his fastball for an average of only 88.7 MPH, a sharp drop from 92.5 earlier in ’13, and down further still from his 2012 peak of 94.3. Stutes’s slider velocity had an even more stunning drop. Maybe he was taking it easy, gently reinserting himself back into pitching following multiple months on the shelf – at least, that’s the hope – but if that’s not the case, Stutes’s future on the club may be in doubt.
This offseason is an important one for Stutes. Because he spent his injured time on the Major League DL, his service time accruals set Stutes up for his first year of arbitration eligibility. He won’t stand to make much, which likely keeps him from being a non-tender candidate, but his time is running out. If he can’t recapture the effectiveness that got him through 2011, he’ll have to keep looking for it while wearing another club’s colors.