Looking at the names of potential long-term replacements for Roy Halladay is not an exercise one should do while sober.
So, drink up, friends.
Obviously, the Phils are not going to unearth some awesome starting pitcher under a rock. Finding someone to take the rotation spot of Halladay for the next three months – or longer – is not going to yield a bunch of former All-Stars with a ton of gas left in the tank.
The Phils are going to have to wade into the pool of mediocrity, some of it their own, in order to cobble together a solution for the rest of the season.
Cloyd will get the first chance to show he can be the long term solution for the Phils. In six starts last year, Cloyd was not overly impressive, posting a 4.91 ERA in six starts, with a 30/7 K/BB ratio. And while his minor league numbers last year were otherworldly (15-1, 2.26 ERA) for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, his numbers this year show those were mostly a mirage (1-3, 5.40 ERA, 32/12 K/BB ratio). Cloyd does not have the stuff to fool Major League hitters, and Ruben Amaro seems to agree, all but saying he’s looking outside the organization for help.
Lannan is the Phils’ de facto #5 starter, currently on the shelf with a knee injury, and isn’t expected back until late May at the earliest. And while Lannan has a chance to be a decent fifth starter (he had two very good starts and one very bad one in three outings before his injury this year), he’s certainly not up to the job of “replacing” what Roy Halladay could have provided, if he had been healthy.
Martin is one of the Phils’ young farmhands playing in Lehigh Valley who has a bit more upside than Cloyd, although, he’s not considered a blue chip prospect right now. He’s also gotten off to a slow start at AAA this year (2-2, 6.35 ERA, 27/21 K/BB ratio), struggling mightily throwing strikes. He’s not ready, and a call-up to the Majors would be foolish.
Morgan is a much better prospect than Martin, and is seen as one of the Phils’ top two overall prospects in the minors. Some have labeled him the top prospect in the organization (although the next guy on the list is more of a consensus choice), and he’s likely to make a run at the rotation in 2014. He might even get a call-up this year, but not now. His numbers have been decent (1-2, 3.89 ERA, 26/11 K/BB ratio), but he’s only made six career starts at the AAA level. It’s not yet the time.
Biddle has dazzled during his first month in AA Reading (2-2, 2.56 ERA, 40/16 K/BB ratio in 31.2 innings), striking out a ton of guys while being named Eastern League Player of the Month for April. However, his first start in May was a total clunker (removed after just seven batters and 41 pitches, he recorded just two outs and walked four), proving he still needs time to develop. There is no need to rush him, even though the rest of the options don’t provide the potential upside that Biddle could provide.
As ESPN’s Jayson Stark noted, there are a couple pitchers with opt-outs in their contracts who could be of interest to Amaro and the Phils. Neither of them are game-changers, however.
Wang, who everyone under the sun will remind you is a former 19-game winner, is pitching for the Yankees AAA team in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Happily undestracted by “The Office” finale hullabaloo, Wang has pitched well in four starts, posting a 2.62 ERA, with a 12/3 K/BB ratio. Wang posted a 6.68 ERA in 10 games (five of them starts) with the Nationals last year.
The 31-year-old Stauffer missed almost all of the 2012 season due to injury, pitching in just one game for San Diego. He’s been throwing for the Padres’ AAA affiliate in Tucson, posting a 3.53 ERA in seven starts, with 32 strikeouts and 14 walks in 35.2 innings.
POSSIBLE TRADE TARGETS:
Is Ruben Amaro willing to give up minor league capital in order to find a Halladay replacement? Everyone knows how much Amaro LOVES LOVES LOVES trading for veteran pitchers, which is why I’ve been predicting the inevitable Matt Garza trade since spring training. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman broke down some trade possibilities for all Major League teams looking for starters as the trade deadline gets a little bit closer in a month or two.
For the record, unless the Phils get really hot, they should not trade any decent minor league pieces for another starting pitcher.
Among the names of note that could catch the eye of Amaro are the Chicago Cubs trio of Garza, Scott Feldman or Travis Wood, Miami starter Ricky Nolasco (middling guy at best), Houston’s Bud Norris (a decent possibility), and San Diego’s Jason Marquis.
For the Phils, there are two saving graces for them right now, Jonathan Pettibone and Kyle Kendrick, both of whom are pitching really well. Kendrick has emerged as a legitimate #3 starter behind Lee and Hamels, ostensibly acting as the “true” Halladay replacement. The hope is that Pettibone can now shift into the role of a #4 or 5 starter, with either Lannan or someone from the outside rounding out the rotation.
Unfortunately, to get someone good, the Phils are going to have to give up some minor league pieces.
Get ready for Garza, y’all.