All true Phillies fans know they have not had a left-hander starter in over 200 major league games. Yesterday was one of the best days ever for minor league Phillies southpaw starters: Cole Irvin, AAA, JoJo Romero, AA and Will Stewart, A-. They all won games and pitched at least eight innings.
They were dominating. Combined in 25.2 innings, the three lefties allowed only 1 run, 12 hits, 2 walks and struck out 23. Just can not pitch any better than that!
Cole Irwin is the most experienced of the bunch. The 24-year-old was a 5th round draft pick in 2016 out of Oregon. This season he is 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA. with Lehigh Valley. Yesterday he threw 117 pitches over 8.2 innings in a four-hit shutout against Charlotte.
JoJo Romero started slowly this season but has come on in his last two starts. He is a 21- year-old taken in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. Yesterday was his best game so far this season, going 8 innings allowing only 5 hits and 1 run on a homer, against Trenton. He walked 1 and struck out 7. He threw 110 pitches. Jo Jo is now 3-4 with a 4.92 ERA.
Will Stewart pitched the most impressive game of all yesterday. Read the previous blog for the details. We have been following Will since he came on board after being drafted out of high school in the 20th round of the 2015 draft. He is the youngest of the three lefties but has been in the Phillies organization the longest. Now in his fourth season, one would think the Phillies need to promote him soon since he has nothing else to prove at low A.
Yesterday was a signature nine-inning complete game shutout for Stewart in Lakewood against Greensboro. He struck out 10, walked none and was touched for only 3 hits. We watched on MiLB-TV his pitch selection. He was throwing all his pitches for strikes and ended the game in the ninth with a 94 MPH fastball on a ground out to third on his 98th pitch. He proved he is ready to move up!
The pitching story yesterday would not be complete without mentioning Reading’s 21-year-old closer Edgar Garcia. He took over the closer role to start the month of May. In what was his final game of the month, he struck out the side in the 9th inning to get a save in Romero’s 3-1 win.
In May, Garcia went 3-0 and 5 for 5 in saves and allowed only one earned run. That run was scored in a non-save situation. In the month, relying on his major league quality slider, he pitched in 12 games over 15.2 innings, opponents hit only .096 and he struck out 22.
The Phillies have some decision to make soon. They have to decide if their long time record of not starting a left-handed pitcher will finally come to an end and if closer Edgar Garcia will get moved on up.