The Philadelphia Phillies traded away Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers, although they weren’t going to re-sign him anyway after the season. That means the Phillies’ rotation for 2013 will consist of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley, with the fifth spot still to be filled.
The Phillies could always sign a free agent – Shawn Marcum might be an attractive offer – although that could mean shelling out another $8 to $10 million per season on a fifth starting pitcher, something the team did the past three seasons with Blanton’s three-year, $24 million deal. It might make sense for GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. to try internally within the organization, and right-handed Tyler Cloyd could be an intriguing option for next year.
Cloyd is having a phenomenal season at the minor league level, as he’s currently 14-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 22 starts. Cloyd was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts before he got the call up to Triple-A, where he’s now 11-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 18 starts for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Cloyd doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters at all, which is always a warning sign that a pitcher’s career could be short (it’s been statistically proven that there is a strong correlation between strikeout rate and the overall effectiveness of a pitcher).
Cloyd is just 25 though, and while that’s a little old for a player that still hasn’t played in the major leagues, it’s not old enough to be concerned. Cloyd has snuck up the system, as he was formerly just an 18th round pick in the 2008 MLB amateur draft and has made very little noise despite tearing up the Triple-A level.
The Phillies are buried in the NL East, double-digit games back in the division race and they’re not going anywhere this season, especially after trading away both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence that was very clearly a white flag move. Why not call up Cloyd and see what he can do? With the way he’s been playing in Triple-A, there’s a very good chance he can make an impact. If the Phillies wait until next season to see if Cloyd can be a part of their rotation, they may find out he’s not ready. That’s why it would make sense for the Phillies to call him up now to see how he can do in eight or so starts without a lot of pressure of being in a pennant race.
If Cloyd goes 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA, that’s terrific, and the Phillies need to put him in their rotation for ’13. And if he goes 1-5 with a 5.67 ERA, then he’s clearly not ready and he can spend next season in the minors again. But why wait? Call Cloyd up now and see what he can do.