Player Review/Preview: Michael Stutes
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Key Statistics: 3-1 W-L, 4.58 ERA, 17 2/3 IP, 8 BB, 9 SO, 1.245 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 4.6 SO/9, 85 ERA+, -0.1 WAR
What Happened In 2013
Michael Stutes has become a forgotten man. Pushed to the back of the refrigerator like last night’s leftovers.
Take one look at his 2013 statistics and there is not much to write home about. Take a closer look, and the numbers tell a much different story.
Stutes did not pitch well enough in Clearwater to head north with the Phillies. So he headed a little farther north – up the Northeast Extension to Allentown. Stutes was coming off an injury plagued 2012 in which he spent most of the season dealing with right shoulder inflammation. When the shoulder did not respond to treatment and therapy, the right-hander underwent arthroscopic surgery that officially ended his season. Stutes spent most of last spring rebuilding his arm strength in hopes of joining the big club sooner rather than later. The Phillies recalled him from Triple-A on May 24.
Then manager, Charlie Manuel, primarily used him in low-leverage situations. Stutes was very effective in his first 11 appearances – allowing only two earned runs. That was followed by two very rough outings on June 19 and 22. In those two appearances he was tagged for eight runs in 1+ innings of work, while walking four and completely losing command of the strike zone. The sudden drop in velocity was a red flag as well. As it turned out, Stutes was pitching hurt. He was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis in his right arm and place on the 15-day disabled list on June 23. That stay lasted longer than 15 days – much, much longer. He was eventually transferred to the 60-day disabled list. He was activated on September 20. Just in time to pitch a pair of scoreless outings during the final week of a forgettable season.
Michael Stutes appeared in 16 games for the Phillies in 2013. In 14 of those games, he pitched 16 2/3 innings with a sparkling 1.08 ERA and a sub-.200 batting average against. It was the pair of outings leading up to the stint on the disabled list, that led to the inflated numbers. Allowing seven earned runs in an inning amounts to an unsightly 63.00 ERA.
What is quite often overlooked, is that when healthy, Michael Stutes is an effective Major League relief pitcher.
What To Expect In 2014
Stutes will have his work cut-out for him next spring if he plans on making the 25-man, Opening Day roster. It looks like an eight-man free-for-all for the final three spots in the Phillies’ bullpen. Stutes will be joined by Phillippe Aumont, Joe Savery, Ethan Martin, B.J. Rosenberg, Jeremy Horst, Brad Lincoln and Rule V acquisition Kevin Munson. Any one of the aforementioned hurlers will have to put-up exceptional numbers during Spring Training to win a spot on the final roster.
Stutes’ first order of business will be to show the coaching staff that he is 100% healthy. Health – or lack thereof – has been a problem the past couple of seasons. Stutes’ physical problems can be traced to unorthodox pitching mechanics. His delivery is not smooth and places undue stress on his pitching shoulder. During his outstanding 2011 rookie campaign, his fastball was a consistent 94 mph with a sharp-breaking slider. As a result of the past few, injury-plagued seasons, that fastball is now 91-92 mph and the slider is not quite as sharp. Subsequently, he will more of a ‘contact pitcher.’
While the ‘stuff’ is not electric, Stutes does know how to get batters out consistently. If he does pitch with the Phillies next year, his spot in the bullpen will be determined by his ‘stuff’ and command. If Stutes returns to 2011 levels, it is not inconceivable to see him in late-game, late-inning, pressure situations. More than likely, the version we saw in 2013 will be the version we will see in 2014. A middle-inning, non-pressure situation reliever. Whether it will be with the Philadelphia Phillies or Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs remains to be seen.
After all, the man who was a part of back-to-back College World Series Championships at Oregon State University would love to add to his championship hardware.