Analysis

O’Sullivan Outrighted to Triple-A, Nola on the Way?

Update: Reliever Hector Neris’ contract has been selected to replace O’Sullivan.

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After getting lit up in last night’s 10-7 loss at Dodgers Stadium, Sean O’Sullivan was outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to Phillies beat writer, Todd Zolecki.

The 27-year-old has not decided whether or not he will accept the assignment, or elect to become a free agent. O’Sullivan struggled mightily in last night’s game, giving up seven runs (six earned) over 5 1/3 innings-pitched. The offense was able to spot the right-hander a 6-3 lead, but he coughed it up, allowing the Dodgers to tie it on Yasmani Grandal’s three-run home run. Of the eight hits given up by O’Sullivan, seven of them were extra-base hits, including four doubles, one triple, and two home runs.

O’Sullivan was just one of the many problems the team has had with its starting rotation this season. On the season, O’Sullivan was 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA. He had not won in his last nine starts.

The Phillies announced that a corresponding move will be made today, which means that No. 2 prospect Aaron Nola could be called up to fill O’Sullivan’s spot in the rotation. It seems even more likely, especially after Ruben Amaro Jr.’s comments stating that Nola is “close” to being in the bigs.

“He’s close,” senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday in an interview with Zolecki. “He’s still working on some things. He struggled through a couple of games. He hasn’t necessarily been knocked around, but it hasn’t been easy for him. He’s still learning some things and dealing with more veteran hitters in Triple-A, which is a good test for him.”

Nola is 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Before being promoted, the 22-year-old was 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 starts for Double-A Reading.

The right-hander has looked great in the minors this season, and is looking primed to make his Major League debut in the very near future. It could be by the end of the week if the team decides to call him up, which they should.

With the state of the Phillies’ starting rotation, the insertion of Nola would provide a shot in the arm for a group that ranks last in ERA (5.29) and wins (17). Since Cole Hamels still in a Phillies uniform, Nola wouldn’t be expected to be the ace of the staff. Calling him up now, one week before the All-Star break, would also give him the chance to make his Major League debut and get acclimated with life in the big leagues before the club return home on July 17.

UPDATE: Reliever Hector Neris has been recalled from Triple-A to fill in O’Sullivan’s spot on the roster. The 26-year-old right-hander has appeared in two games for the Phillies, allowing three hits and one walk over 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

A Minor League starter will likely be called up to pitch this Saturday in San Francisco, which was O’Sullivan’s next scheduled start.

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