With the continued injury woes of ace Cole Hamels and the insecurity in the back end of the rotation, it is looking as though Jeff Manship, the veteran non-roster free agent that was brought along to Clearwater with the team, may be the team’s fifth starter once the season opens.
The team will not need a fifth starter until mid-April due to the layout of the schedule (rain-outs notwithstanding). However, the yo-yo reporting that has emanated regarding the health status of Hamels has given fans whiplash and leaves doubt as to whether his debut will occur in April at all, let alone the possibility of an extended absence. As a result, the Philadelphia Phillies have been hunting for a fifth starter to fill in behind Cliff Lee, AJ Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez.
Little was known about Manship other than him having a semi-recognizable name to baseball aficionados. The 29 year old was a 14th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in 2006, and eventually made his debut in 2009 in relief. After a tumultuous few seasons with the Twins and Colorado Rockies where he didn’t do much to make a name for himself, he netted himself a minor-league contract with the Phillies with an invitation to Spring Training.
All Manship has done thus far is light it up. He has pitched 11 innings with a 2.45 ERA and nine strikeouts while only giving up three runs. Certainly not Cy Young numbers, but he’s performed marginally better than the projected Opening Day starter Lee and has pitched Kendrick under the bus. It helps that the team is starved for quality starters, as The Fettuccine has yet to show the team that he has been worth his money, and they don’t seem to trust any of their young guys enough to start them.
As a result, circumstance and well-timed strong pitching have given Manship a legit chance to show what he’s got in front of the Philly faithful.