“I can’t believe what I just saw”. That was the famous call by the late Jack Buck of Kirk Gibson’s famous pinch hit home run in the 1988 World Series. Watching the latest Phillies game Wednesday night against the Mets, I could not believe what I just saw either. It was another give away by the Phillies bullpen by failing to protect a 4-2 lead going into the top of the seventh inning. The Mets went on to win 10-6 and sweep the three game series as the Phillies fell four games under .500 and remain in last place in the National League East.
Though it’s still early in the season, it’s starting to get dark early out there in the division standing for the Phillies. Injuries and a bullpen with the highest ERA in the National League are starting to take their tolls in the loss column. Going into Friday night’s game against Houston, the Phillies will have at least seven players on the 15 day disabled list. Reports indicate that Laynce Nix might the next player to join the DL with a calf injury. After getting a pinch single to center in the game Wednesday night he was barely able to make it to first base because of the injury. We also have learned that Joe Savery had been optioned to AAA after that game. General Manager Rubne Amaro Jr. has to send out a SOS call for roster help before Friday night’s next game. So who is hot at AAA?
Over the last several days Baseball Betsy and I have been watching on MiLB-TV the Lehigh Valley IronPigs play in Indianapolis against the Pirates AAA farm team. Right now the Pigs are not hitting much or pitching well and have lost the first three games of the four game series. Still two players stood out in the games we saw, Jake Diekman and Derrick Mitchell. In Wednesday’s game Diekman retired the Indians in order in his one inning of work to improve his amazing record to only one earned run in 15.1 innings of relief this season. He was helped by a sliding catch along the right field foul line wall by Mitchell for the first out of his inning. In addition to his strong play in all three outfield positions this season, Mitchell also has been hitting well of late. In his last seven games including a suspended game he has gone 9 for 23 with 4 doubles and 4 RBIs. In Wednesday’s game he was squaring up the ball well in his three at bats. In addition to a gap double to left, he hit two long flies to left and right center that were caught.
Can these two help the Phillies in their time of need. Sure. No doubt about Diekman. The Phillies need help in the pen and Jake is ready to do just that. He has earned a chance to pitch in the big leagues. He is on the 40 man roster and can be called up to replace Savery in time for Friday’s game.
Mitchell is another story. If Nix becomes the eight Phillies player to be placed on the DL who would take his place on the roster? The Phillies have only two other outfield players on the 40 man roster who are not on the current 25 man roster: Domonic Brown and Tyson Gillies. Brown is with the IronPigs and has been bothered by a hamstring injury and has not played since Monday night when he committed his fifth error of the season in left field. Gillies is playing center and some in right field for Reading and could be called up as an emergency replacement for Nix. For Mitchell to get the call the Phillies would have to create first a roster spot on the 40 man roster. The easiest way to do that would be to move someone like pitcher Justin DeFratus from the 15 day to the 60 day DL.
Who knows what General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will do. He must do something though by Friday night for the Astros series. Bodies are falling left and right on the 25 man roster and the bullpen is imploding on a daily basis. What I would do is call up Diekman to replace Savery in the bullpen. If Nix is placed on the DL which seems likely, I would call up Mitchell by creating a spot on the 40 man roster for him. Will this happen? Who knows but we will find out soon!