2013 Phillies Report Card: Jonathan Pettibone

Jonathan Pettibone’s big league debut came after just three minor league starts in 2013. He threw 100 Major League innings during his rookie season. They were spread over eighteen starts. That’s about five and a half innings per start and only had one seven inning start, a tad less than you’d like to see from someone who was projected to have the body and strike throwing efficiency of a 200-inning starter (The raw stuff isn’t good enough to fool hitters multiple times through the lineup and Pettibone has to learn a few tricks to do it and I think he will) yada yada….MLB growing pains and such. Other than that, Pettibone was as advertised.

His fastball sits in the low 90s with good plane thanks to his height, though it has little horizontal movement. He might run it up to 94mph or 95mph once in a while. It’s a 50-55 pitch. His best offering is the changeup which will sit 82-85mph and features good fade and arm speed. He’ll go to it when he falls behind early in the count, especially to lefties, and I won’t argue with you if you want to put a 6 on it though I’m inclined to go a half grade lower. Scouting reports (including mine) noted a slider and a very seldom used curveball but after his first few Major League starts, Eric Nehs (@enehsy) at Baseball Info Solutions spotted a cutter.

“I saw Ruiz put down a two and the pitch had short slider movement at 87mph. Then I saw him put down a three and the pitch had slider movement at 85mph.”

These pitches move similarly. They’re short and hard in the 83-87mph range with the cutter ranging toward the higher end of that spectrum. It’s probably a 45 pitch but can still induce weak contact and maybe miss some bats if it’s thrown in the right spot.

We all pegged Pettibone as a fifth starter-type and it seems clear that’s what the Phillies have. He posted a 4.18 FIP in 2013, striking out 15% of the batters he faced while walking 8.7%. Players with similar numbers? Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge de la Rosa, Mike Leake, Kyle Kendrick, John Danks…you get the idea. He’s a cost-controlled back end starter who has two years of pre-arb juice to squeeze. It’s a terrific thing to have.

Now for the worrisome variable or, as I like to call it, the scariable. Pettibone was shut down in late July due to a strained right shoulder. It was just a strain, not a rotator cuff or labrum tear, but it’s still a shoulder problem and shoulder problems are hard to fix. Pettibone has never had any other major injury issues, at least not that I’ve been able to dig up, so let’s hope the 6’5” righty’s offseason has been one of quality rehab.


 My Grade: C

Michael Paul Bill Ryan
B+ C+ C- C+


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  1. Pencilfish

    November 15, 2013 10:52 AM


    With both KK and Petitbone as #5 SP, MAG as a possible SP, and RAJ reportedly pursuing another SP, I don’t understand why RAJ plans to offer arbitration to KK. Surely we need depth, but the ~$7-8M for KK could be better spent someplace else. Unless he plans to sign and trade KK, Petitbone is the #6 SP and ticketed for AAA, along with Morgan and maybe Biddle.

  2. Eric Longenhagen

    November 15, 2013 11:11 AM

    Morgan’s shoulder is pretty bad, based on what Biddle showed last year, he isn’t ready, MAG’s got arm issues and the average MLB team used 22 different pitchers in 2013. I think it’s ok to bring back Kendrick.

  3. Pencilfish

    November 15, 2013 11:45 AM

    yeah, the depth issue was really visible in 2013. I can think of 7 SP who could pitch at the ML level in 2014, not including FA signings or trades:

    Lee, Hamels, KK, MAG, Petitbone, Morgan, Biddle

    I know about the health issues for the last 4 names. What about Severino Gonzalez? He seems ticketed for AA in 2014 and could be a potential call-up for a spot-start in case of injury, ineffectiveness, double-headers, etc.
    Have you done a report on him?

  4. Eric Longenhagen

    November 15, 2013 11:53 AM

    I have not. Sevy was in Clearwater all year. When I went down to Florida for a week, guess who was sent down to Lakewood to stretch out as a Starter? His last start in Double-A was on the road. Never saw him. Everyoe I’ve talked to about him says he’s a #4 or a #5. I think a full year at Double-A is in order. I know the numbers are good, but so were Julio Rodriguez’s.

  5. Pencilfish

    November 16, 2013 03:12 PM

    Yes, duly noted, but Severino has 31 BB, 234 SO in 239 IP in his minor league career. A guy with that kind of control deserves some attention. Let’s see what he can do in AA in 2014.

  6. KH

    November 17, 2013 03:14 AM

    You sure Pettibone throws that hard. My recollection is right around 90.

  7. KH

    November 17, 2013 03:15 AM

    Just to clarify you could say 92-93 is right around 90 but I swear I rarely saw him above 90.

  8. Eric Longenhagen

    November 17, 2013 10:41 AM

    I said “low 90s”. His average fastball velo this year was 90.8mph.

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