After it was announced that Cliff Lee will be placed on the 60-day disabled list, David Buchanan will need to step up for the Phillies. So far this spring, he has done that.
The 25-year-old right-hander could be as high as the number two starter behind Cole Hamels in the starting rotation if his success on the mound continues.
In 11 innings-pitched this spring, Buchanan has held opponents to a .227 batting average, and has a 2.45 ERA.
He is also second on the team in strikeouts with eight, albeit six came in his start yesterday against the Rays. However, Buchanan is not a strikeout pitcher, as he only has a career 14.1 strikeout percentage (MLB average is 20.4).
With his inability to strike people out consistently, Buchanan has relied on fastball location and mixing in his off-speed pitches in key situations. During yesterday’s start, Buchanan relied on this combination to shut down the Rays’ offense.
Last season in 20 starts, Buchanan went 6-8 with a 3.75 ERA over 117.2 innings-pitched in his first MLB season.
Is Buchanan poised to have a breakout sophomore campaign? The Phillies need him to.
For comparison’s sake, Hamels went 9-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 23 starts in 2006, and in his sophomore season, went 15-5 in 28 starts with a 3.39 ERA.
Now, Buchanan does not have the talent that Hamels does, and he’s not the highly-touted prospect that Hamels was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a successful season on the mound.
With Lee’s injury, the Phillies rotation is littered with question marks. If Cole Hamels is dealt, the Phillies will be left without a clear-cut ace. Buchanan has sure pitched like an ace this spring, and the Phillies hope that his success carries over into the regular season.