There is one pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization who has not given up an earned run in a month, and he’s not pitching for the big club.
His name is Cesar Jimenez and, in a dysfunctional bullpen, he would at least be a functioning piece. He has not given up an earned run since April for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Phillies’ Triple A affiliate in Allentown (Pa.). Now stats in Triple A do not always translate to the major leagues, but Jimenez has a number of qualities that should endear himself to the Phillies. He is 2-1 in three decisions so far this season, he has a spectacular 1.67 ERA and he’s left-handed.
The Phillies should send underachieving left-hander Antonio Bastardo down and replace him with Jimenez as soon as possible.
Bastardo has been nothing short of awful. On Wednesday, he faced five batters and walked four, and control has been an issue all season for the 28-year-old. Bastardo issued 17 walks in his first 23 innings this season, a ratio of 6.7 walks per nine innings. His walk rate before 2014 was 4.2 per nine. He has thrown first-pitch strikes to 54.4 percent of batters one season after doing it 68.7 percent of the time and, on top of that, he’s making $2 million a year.
It would be a trade that would benefit one ball club (sorry, Iron Pigs), because Bastardo has struggled and Jimenez has shown some consistency. Jimenez went 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA with the Iron Pigs last year. He has not pitched in the majors since last September, but he was 1-0 for the Seattle Mariners in 2011.
Lefties are notorious for being late-bloomers, and Jimenez could be one of those as he serves mostly in long relief for the Iron Pigs. His three-inning stint earlier this week extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings.
Promoting Jimenez and demoting Bastardo will send a message to the rest of the team that the Phillies are rewarding performance, not keeping guys around because they have big contracts. For a sub .500 team showing alarming signs of complacency, that’s the most important message to send now.