With Roy Halladay likely headed to the the disabled list, the Phillies will have a vacant spot in the rotation that needs to be filled. There are really only three candidates to replace him and our selection may surprise you.
Quick notes: whoever replaces Halladay, as Matt Gelb points out, will have a hard time pitching worse than Halladay has in 2013. Our Eric Seidman pointed out last week that Halladay’s biggest comparable over the last calendar year has been Joe Blanton – unfortunately for Halladay, with his last two outings, that ship has sailed as well.
Finally, for the purposes of this article, Jesse Biddle, despite his strong start, is not included here because, frankly, myself and many others would like to see slightly more out of him in Double-A, and perhaps Triple-A, before considering him for a promotion to MLB but also because his addition would require him being added to the 40-man roster – a move that would be almost wasted should Doc’s expected DL stint last for only 15 days.
Pros: Dynamite secondary pitches, great location on fastball, started the year with two truly great starts (1.29 ERA, 9 Ks in 14 IP against a very good Syracuse club), most complete/polished pitcher of the three available at this time.
Cons: Just 23 years old – why rush? Has struggled in last three starts (6.75 ERA, 3 HR allowed) and has struggled keeping pitch count low. Has only gone past the sixth inning once. Is not on the 40-man roster.
Morgan looked phenomenal in his first to starts of the year against the Syracuse Chiefs, a team hitting .271, made up of Nationals’ prospects. He used sliders and change-ups mixed in with a fastball that climbed in velocity as the game went on and challenged hitters. He was in contention for the spot that went to Jonathan Pettibone received but is not yet on the 40-man roster, which would have been a hindrance. At this point, my only question is his endurance: Morgan has a propensity to pitch long innings and hits 90-100 pitches around the fifth or sixth inning.
Chances of Replacing Halladay: 35%. Morgan is the performance-based favorite, even with the bumps he has hit recently. He’s not on the 40-man roster however, the Phillies are only at 39 right now and Sebastian Valle and Tyson Gillies have played their way to expandability in the early going if they want the extra player cushion.
Pros: On the 40-man roster, over a strikeout per inning pitched right now, bad stats are due for a positive regression
Cons: Are the bad stats due for a positive regression (20 BB in 22.1 IP)? Has not gotten past the fifth inning with the ‘Pigs in 2013.
Chances of Replacing Halladay: 20%. Martin has given up 14 ER in his last three starts, pitching just 13.1 innings. I think Martin still has a lot of great stuff and I would chalk this up to a slow start. Martin is your guy if you believe you need someone to fill in for one or two starts and are tempted to see what he can do against MLB hitters.
Pros: On the 40-man roster, has pitched the best the most recent out of any IronPigs starter (2.40 ERA in last 15 IP)
Cons: 7.65 ERA over first four starts was enough to confirm label many already had in their minds for Cloyd and sealed his fate for most
Cloyd is the best of the three lately – he is coming off back-to-back solid starts against Louisville and Indianapolis. A super slow start cost him a shot at the spot opened up by John Lannan – will it cost him the spot opened up by Halladay?
Chances of Replacing Halladay: 45%. This is probably the safest route for the Phillies. Martin is still raw and Morgan, as brilliant as he has looked, is still very much a work in progress. Cloyd is your guy if you don’t want to Gavin Floyd (adjective) either Morgan or Martin.