It was announced this week that Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee is done for the season, having re-injured the same elbow that landed him on the DL back in May. Right now the flexor pronator strain doesn’t need surgery, and the Phillies hope to have him throwing again in October or November long after this sad excuse for a Phillies season has come to an end.
With Lee out, the team called up right-handed pitcher David Buchanan for his second stint with in the majors, having also filled in for Lee the last time he was on the DL. That first stretch of games could have gone better, with Buchanan going 5-5 with an ERA of 4.40. But in his return to the Phillies against the Houston Astros, he played much better, lasting 6.1 innings, allowing nine hits, three earned runs and throwing 102 pitches.
Of course, it helped that the Phillies’ offense actually did something for a change, scoring 10 runs, which is six more than they scored over the course of the last four games combined; but I digress.
Buchanan has been handed a golden opportunity to show the Phillies that he should be considered for a permanent place on the starting rotation next season. At this point the only starting pitcher who is guaranteed to be around next year is Cole Hamels. And even if Lee does make a full recovery and return to form in 2015, it is all but certain that the team will move him at next year’s trade deadline. The rest will either not be re-signed (I’m looking at you Kyle Kendrick) or run screaming from an organization that doesn’t seem to have a clue what it is doing.
Buchanan is only 25 and obviously has the potential to be a solid starting pitcher in MLB. And there is great chance that if he can show that he is worth it, the Phillies will keep him around long term.
You never like to see a player get hurt, especially one like Lee who gives his all every time he steps on the mound. But if I was Buchanan, I would count my blessings and pitch like there’s no tomorrow, because you never know when a chance like this will come up again.