For months now, Phillies fans have yearned to see Tyler Cloyd in red pinstripes, standing on the mound for the big league club. After a seemingly endless wait, they’ll finally get their wish, albeit probably not in the circumstances they envisioned.
Cloyd will start tonight against the New York Mets in place of left-hander Cole Hamels, who is reportedly on the shelf with a gastrointestinal illness.
Cloyd, 25, is having what has been, without question, his best year as a professional baseball player. In 22 starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he has posted a 12-1 record, with a 2.35 ERA and 93 strikeouts to 38 walks. He was recently named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. He has pitched remarkably, to be sure. Over the course of this season, he’s gone from relative unknown to an obsession.
The success Cloyd has had has caused many fans and pundits to suggest he should be pitching in the big leagues. Most have argued that, with the team all but eliminated from playoff contention, it’s a no-brainer to slide him into the injured Vance Worley’s spot in the rotation and see if Cloyd can be a legitimate contributor on this team in the future.
On the opposite end of the forum, Ruben Amaro Jr. has been obstinate in his stance that he doesn’t believe Cloyd can provide anything more than what the team already has on the big league roster and will remain in the minors until that changes. Cloyd has also been met with much skepticism from scouts, who are unimpressed with his inability to regularly hit 90 MPH on the radar gun, despite being a 25-year old Triple-A pitcher.
Service time also likely played a part in the decision to keep Cloyd in the minors. The Phillies could hold off on promoting Cloyd until September 1, when rosters expand, and prevent him from accruing major league service time.
But with Hamels’s illness, Amaro’s hand has been forced. He now has no choice but to summon the right-hander, who was originally slated to make a start on regular rest tonight in Lehigh Valley. Depending on which end of the Cloyd argument you stand, the fact that he was tonight’s scheduled LHV starter can either be viewed as serendipitous or unfortunate. It’s all moot now.
7:05 tonight, Phillies fans, you’ll finally get to see what all the buzz is about.