The Philadelphia Phillies signed veteran Aaron Cook over the off-season, now he has a chance to pitch his way into the rotation.
Lets run though the basics first. Aaron Cook is 34-years old, and has a career 4.60 ERA over his ten years in the Major Leagues, with a 76-79 record. Aaron Cook’s best season was 2008 with the Colorado Rockies where he went 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA, two complete games, and a 1.34 WHIP in 211.1 IP.
Also he threw 2 innings and allowed O ER and 2 hits in their completely meaningless spring training game yesterday against the New York Yankees. I’m just mentioning it.
The Phillies signed Aaron Cook to, on paper at least, eat innings if any of the front five starters get hurt (which happens all the time). He has a reasonable shot at some level of success because he is a ground ball pitcher. Fly ball pitchers tend to get lit up in the tiny Citizens Bank Park, given a large enough sample size (Chad Qualls, 2012), and Cook should almost definitely get some playing time this year if he makes the team.
So, lets say John Lannan gets hurt for a month and Aaron Cook fills in, goes 4-0 and looks absolutely stellar. What happens when Lannan returns? I think in that situation Kyle Kendrick could get moved to the bullpen, where I believe he is most effective. The only way Aaron Cook plays is if he pitches his way into the rotation, because Kyle Kendrick has earned his spot, and Lannan is getting paid too much to ignore (but not so much he can’t be replaced).
The most likely scenario is Aaron Cook pitching like he has historically – a bit below average – and the Phillies keep him around to pitch a game here or there. In other words, Aaron Cook is the rotation’s security blanket.