What seemed like a short-term stint in the majors has turned into a chance for Mark Leiter, Jr. to build a future with the Phillies.
When Howie Kendrick went on the disabled list nearly two weeks ago, the Phillies opted to bring Mark Leiter, Jr. up to the majors rather than add a player to the bench. Leiter could have been sent back down to Triple-A when Ty Kelly was added to the major-league roster, but the Aaron Nola injury kept Leiter on the roster for at least a little longer.
After being called up April 18, it took 10 days before Leiter got the opportunity to pitch in the majors. That opportunity came Friday night against the Dodgers. Leiter set down the Dodgers in order without allowing a better to reach base.
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One of the Dodgers Leiter retired was former Phillie Chase Utley. The 26-year old Leiter watched Utley as a Phils fan in Toms River, N.J. He was 17 when Philadelphia won the World Series in 2008, and he went to several games in the postseason at Citizen’s Bank Park.
"“It was cool,” Leiter said. “Growing up watching the Phillies, he contributed to a lot of great years.“Any time you can face guys that you watched growing up and rooted for is a pretty cool feeling. That’s something you dream about.”More from That Balls Outta HerePhiladelphia Phillies bullpen could still struggle greatly in 2023 seasonPhiladelphia Phillies: Most impactful transactions in 2022How will Rob Thomson manage the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen in 2023?How Phillies’ Ranger Suárez is set to build on 2022 postseason dominanceWhat can Philadelphia Phillies expect from Bryson Stott in 2023?"
With Nick Pivetta making his first major-league start Sunday, the team needed to make room on the roster for him. Rather than optioning Leiter back to the minors, Luis Garcia was sent back to Triple-A instead.
With Leiter in the majors for at least a little bit longer, he has the chance to show the club a flash of potential, even if it is in the bullpen. Now that he has his foot in the door, Leiter may get more opportunities in relief.
Manager Pete Mackanin said he liked what he saw from Leiter in his debut: [quote via Zolecki]
"“He pitched pretty well,” Mackanin said.“For his Major League debut, he was pretty cool, calm and collected. It was nice to see.”"
With Leiter surviving multiple chances for a demotion, he has the opportunity to build his resume in the majors.