With his father Jay, a former major league pitcher who himself played under Charlie Manuel in attendance, the 22-year-old Jonathan Pettibone took the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies for his first ever major league start.
And overall, Pettibone did a pretty great job.
Initially seemingly uncomfortable, Pettibone surrendered a leadoff double to Starling Marte of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For many rookies in their major league debuts, a leadoff double could have spelled trouble. Pettibone however, seemed to settle in a bit and managed to work out of the inning, recording his first major league strikeout and not allowing any runs to score.
In the second, Pettibone struck out two more but not before giving up a solo home run to Pedro Alvarez. While the pitch he threw to Alvarez was middle-in and clearly a mistake, Pettibone finished the frame with a perfectly placed slider, which led to the second strikeout of the inning.
After recording his first 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third, Pettibone worked out a walk on five pitches to start off the bottom of the third. After finding his way to third base, Pettibone came home to score the Phillies’ first run on a wild pitch thrown by AJ Burnett.
Pettibone allowed another home run, this time to Russell Martin, to start the fifth, but this would be the last run he would give up in the game. He pitched into the sixth, lasting a third of the inning, before the book was closed on his major league debut. His line read: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 6 SO, O BB.
When looking at his body of work from the game, there are two notables to take from the performance.
The first is that Pettibone gave up just six hits, three of which came in the first two innings. He did surrender two home run balls, but if you look at, these were really the only mistakes he made the entire game. Other than these two bad pitches, Pettibone really was hitting his location and keeping charge of his command throughout the game.
Going along with keeping command, the second notable is that Pettibone did not walk anybody. In his two years at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Pettibone has a 4.7 BB/9, which is not great. The expectation typically is that a young pitcher will have a higher rate upon reaching Triple-A and that is exactly what happened to Pettibone as his BB/9 increased by nearly two when he jumped from Double to Triple-A.
But in his major league debut, Pettibone didn’t walk anybody. 51 of his 83 total pitches were strikes and he did not run too many 3-2 counts on the night. In short, Pettibone was in control of his pitching for the entire game.
And it is mainly for that reason, that the 22-year-old will get a second chance at his first career win. He showed the good stuff that has made him a top prospect, including his plus (94 MPH) fastball and a very deceptive slider that will bode well for him in the majors.
While Adam Morgan down at Lehigh Valley still remains an attractive option, it does seem that Pettibone did enough to keep himself on the roster for at least one more start.