Phillies Shake Up Bullpen
The Phillies have made several roster changes in advance of Sunday’s game, the result of playing 28 mostly gross innings in two consecutive 14-inning games against the Mets. After surprisingly surrendering only one earned run in 15 innings over two days, the overtaxed bullpen is short on available relievers. Included in that heroic effort last night was Jeff Manship, who did his best to masquerade as a legitimate major league pitcher before he injured himself trying to beat out a grounder in the 14th. The Manship gave the Phillies four flawless frames in which he yielded no hits or walks and struck out six Mets. The Phillies placed the injured Manship on the disabled list with a strained quad, and Darin Ruf was sent down to Lehigh Valley. In related moves, the Phillies have summoned Cesar Jimenez and Phillippe Aumont to the bullpen.
Aumont’s erratic tenure with the Phillies has been well chronicled in this space. At this point of his career, the 25-year-old Aumont still has an opportunity to carve out a role for himself in a bullpen that is desperate for a reliable righty who can throw some heat. Given his inability to command the strike zone, which has been all the more frustrating during his brief periods of effectiveness, Aumont may not be long for the big club.
You can read a little bit of Crasburn Alley’s coverage on Jimenez here. So far in 2014, the 29-year-old Jimenez has logged 27 innings for Lehigh Valley, with 22 strikeouts, seven walks, and a 1.67 ERA. If the lefty can provide some stability in the middle innings, there may be a role for him as a bridge to Diekman, Adams, and Papelbon. If not, Jimenez may still be more effective than Antonio Bastardo, who has a career-high walk rate this year and has struggled with his command. It’s unlikely the Phillies would carry lefthanders Diekman, Jimenez, Bastardo, and Hollands at the same time, so the next few days are going to be critical for Jimenez. Don’t be surprised if he gets a lot of usage during that time, which will give Ryne Sandberg and Bob McClure something to chew on once the bullpen recovers from this weekend’s meatgrinder.
In his most recent (and very brief) callup to the majors, Darin Ruf had a walk and one hit, a homer, in 11 plate appearances. He’ll be down on the farm for at least 10 days unless someone else gets injured. For those of you who have a soft spot for Ruf: if there’s still room on the roster for John Mayberry Jr., there’s always hope for Ruf. The summer hasn’t even started yet, and Ruf is one of a few righty power bats on the roster. He’ll be back.
The injury to Manship and the extra inning games may be blessings in disguise. Despite his fantastic performance on Saturday night, Manship has been mostly terrible this season. Further, while the bullpen performed admirably, the Mets are not exactly an offensive powerhouse. The Phillies would be fortunate if Jimenez can establish himself enough to demand a spot in the ‘pen. If by some stroke of amazing good luck Aumont does that as well, the Phillies would have a nice problem on their hands when the time comes to make the next round of bullpen moves.