There’s no doubt Phillippe Aumont’s stuff is ridiculous.
He has a fastball that hums along in the mid-90s and breaking pitches that move in directions one would think is only possible in a Wiffle ball championship league.
However, sometimes stuff alone is not enough. And if Phillippe Aumont wants to be a reliable, shut-down Major League reliever, he’s going to have to do something about his control.
Ten of Phillippe Aumont’s first 12 pitches were balls. He walked 2, then went K, K, 6-3.
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) March 17, 2013
Aumont walked the first two hitters but managed to pitch around it, striking out the next two and recording the final out on a groundout. It was the type of performance that leaves you drooling, but also reminds you how much work Aumont has left to do.
At the Major League level, relief pitchers cannot struggle with their control as much as Phillippe has a tendency to do. And at the Major League level, relief pitchers cannot walk the first two batters of an inning. More often than not, that is a recipe for disaster.
Phillippe Aumont reminds me of Mitch Williams. He can throw 8 straight balls and then strike out 3 straight batters.
— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) March 17, 2013
I’m not sure it’s such a good thing for a reliever to remind everyone of ‘ol Mitchey-poo. We’ve been down that road, have we not?
But there is no denying his stuff. It is simply outrageous. It is perhaps a little too much for some…
— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) March 17, 2013
Phillies staff, although concerned about his control, clearly are intrigued and enamored by his stuff.
“He was erratic,” said pitching coach Rich Dubee after yesterday’s 5-3 win over the Orioles (per MLB.com’s Paul Hagen). “But it was good to see him grind it out, make an adjustment. He’s going to have some rope. You’re going to have to give him a leash out there, because he’s going to have moments where he’s going to lose it for a while. He did it last year when he came up and he did it in this game. He righted the ship where, in the past, he hasn’t been able to.”
The Phillies currently have three spots in the bullpen up for grabs, with Aumont seemingly in prime position to win one of them. It is assumed a left-hander like Jeremy Horst or Raul Valdes will win one of the other spots, with the third spot going to either a long man or a third lefty.
Manager Charlie Manuel, who recently challenged his young bullpen arms to step it up, said there are jobs to be won.
“We’ve got guys like Aumont and Horst,” Manuel said yesterday. “We have to get them going, get them sharp. Some of those guys are going to be on our team. We have to get them going for when the season starts.”
Fans who love Aumont’s repertoire have to be careful not to be so enamored with the quality of his pitches that they ignore the all-too-periodic lack of control. Anyone who remembers the 1993 Phillies knows how tough it was to live through the Mitch Williams era. No one wants to go through that again.
That said, Aumont should make this ballclub. There is no question he has one of the best arms in the organization, and it would be a sin to waste it in AAA Lehigh Valley. Aumont will only get better facing Major League hitters, most likely in the 6th or 7th innings, where the the pressure shouldn’t be so severe.
Phils fans who watched young Phillippe wiggle out of a self-imposed jam yesterday had to be impressed. He is a flat-out ridiculous talent.
But until he harnesses it a little better, it’s going to be hard to rely on him in crucial, late-game situations.
Phillippe Aumont has to learn to control his “sexy” stuff if he wants to be a legitimate Major League reliever.