We’ve reached the midway point of February which means the flowers will be budding and the icicles melting before we know it. While some of us are hitting the hardware stores shopping around for mowers and such, others are hitting the sporting good stores preparing for another season of America’s game. That’s right, folks. Spring training games are just a week and a half away.
New faces in new places. That seems to be the catchy theme heading into the 2014 MLB season. With what seems like just as many offseason signings as there was draftees, this spring training season will be one of the most competitive ones in quite some time for many clubs.
Pitching is something that the Philadelphia Phillies have had some great success with over the course of the past handful of seasons — starting pitching that is. In four of the last five seasons, Philadelphia saw itself within the top 10 for team ERA by starting pitchers in all the majors.
Relief pitching on the other hand, is a different story. Philly’s team ERA for relief pitchers has only ranked within the top 10 once in the last five years in all the majors. The next closest was their ranking of 14 in 2009.
Last season however, is a season they would like to forget, especially from a pitching aspect. Philly’s team ERA ranked in at 25 for starters and 27 for relievers. With the amount of holes to fill, that means the opportunities are endless for quite a few players. So, where does prospect, Jesse Biddle fit in with all the hoopla going on around the rubber?
For starters, no pun intended, it’s extremely unlikely that he will see any time in the rotation. Not unless a player goes down, which is something Philadelphia is really hoping to avoid. With the signing of A.J. Burnett this past week, the Phillies’ rotation is pretty much complete. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was brought in last year to be the No. 3, but with the sudden signing of Burnett, he’ll most likely be pushed back to the four spot with Kyle Kendrick closing out the rotation at the five spot.
The bullpen is a place that is very much an option for a guy like Biddle. Biddle, who has every intention on bringing more maturity to this season, will not have much competition at all. Mike Adams is a guy who can’t stay healthy and hasn’t been the same since he’s come over to Philadelphia. Jonathan Papelbon is arguably the most inconsistent closer in the game right now and while Antonio Bastardo did post pretty decent numbers again last year, he’s streaky. The rest of the guys aren’t even worth mentioning.
Last year with the Reading Phillies, Biddle posted a 3.64 ERA in 138.1 innings of work. He was able to throw two complete games and strike out a solid 154 batters. Biddle is highly praised compared to the rest of the prospects of the Phillies. It’s likely he’ll see time this year. Where? Who knows. Make no mistakes about it though, folks. The future is extremely bright for Biddle.