The Phillies made some moves over the last year that beefed up their pitching staff and added prospects to other positions as well. In doing so, they got rid of Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, and Kenny Giles, in an effort to add plenty of young talent. The promising group that they’ve acquired have put a couple of Phillies pitchers in tough spots going forward.
Last year, Severino Gonzalez had an utterly forgettable season. In his seven starts at the big league level, he gave up 27 earned runs for an ERA of 7.92. In his Major League debut, he gave up seven runs to the Cardinals in less than three innings. It was one of the worst MLB debuts in history for a starting pitcher, as his game score of just 8 is tied for the 12th worst debut of all time. Oof.
There were questions then about his readiness for the big leagues–after all he was a rather young 22, and hadn’t had a ton of experience prior to being called up. And now there are some questions about when he will be ready to face MLB batters again, as he’s not exactly having a good time in Spring Training this year. In six innings pitched Gonzalez has given up five earned runs. And he was just optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on March 22.
David Buchanan is somewhat in the same boat. He’s not as young as Gonzalez, and he had a pretty good 2014 season with the Phils. However, he had a 6.99 ERA last year in 15 games in 2015. He was put in a lot of bad spots, as I think he pitched a bit better than his numbers indicated. Still, he will not be a part of the Phillies rotation to start the 2016 season. He was optioned to AAA on March 15. Neither of them were on the 7-man deep depth chart on the Phillies website.
Both of these guys are being pushed out in favor of some other young arms like Jerad Eickhoff and Vincent Velasquez. There’s simply no room for them. Velasquez, who came over in the Giles trade, looks poised to blow MLB hitters away with his fastball at Citizens Bank Park. He’s got a good chance to be the #5 starter. Eickhoff, who was part of the Hamels deal, is pushing to be the #4 starter. He’s easing his way back after an injury, but he should be good to go by the time the season starts.
This is unfortunate news for the likes of Buchanan and Gonzalez, who could’ve been in contention for #4 and #5 in the starting rotation for 2016– if you asked me– last March. Right now, I just don’t see how they fit into the Phillies 25-man (and soon the 40-man) roster at all. The good news is that Eickhoff and Valesquez aren’t slouches by any stretch. They can become household names throughout the entire Philadelphia region if they both reach their ceiling.