With a wicked lefty windup and a fastball that reaches 97 on the gun, Jake Diekman burst onto the scene as a possible eighth inning savior for a Phillies team that absolutely needed one. That good times didn’t last for Diekman, but the young reliever showed enough promise that Phillies fans are, and should be, excited.
The 25-year-old Diekman began the year as a relative unknown with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs after an 83-strikeout season with Reading in 2011. In 26 2/3 innings with the Pigs through the first month and change, Diekman fanned 37 batters, but did struggle a bit with control, walking 13. It was that lack of control that haunted him throughout his up and down tenure with the Phillies.
Diekman made his major league debut on May 15 against the Astros and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. In his next appearance on May 17 against the Cubs, he allowed four runs and walked two batters. That kinda year.
Overall, Diekman finished 2012 with a 3.95 ERA in 27 1/3 innings, and an extremely high 1.65 WHIP. The strikeouts remained high, as he fanned 35, however the walks continues to haunt him. Diekman gave up 20 free passes, far to many to have him remain a key cog in the bullpen.
The tools are there. If Diekman can hone his wild delivery and maybe take a tick or two off his fastball in order to control it, this will be a stronger bullpen in 2013.