Pitching Out of the Break: Rotations and Projections

“I’m just sitting here watching the [pitchers] go round and round,
I really love to watch them [pitch]…”

–John Lennon


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Imagine how good Nola would be if he pitched with his eyes OPEN? Photo: Cheryl Pursell


I write most of these posts in my head.  Usually, they’re 90% complete before I ever start typing.  This morning, I was thinking about how the ‘Pigs rotation would look coming out of the All Star break.  Who would the Phillies leave in Allentown?  Would Nola get called up?  Is Jerome Williams ready for a spot in Philadelphia?  Where the heck is Kevin Correia, who was DFA’d days ago?  How is Aaron Harang feeling?  Would Nola pitch in the Futures Game today, in light of his full workload Friday night in P’tucket?

My plan was to chart out the games and the pitchers, and then predict who would be where, and when.  Then, lo and behold, the Game Notes for the ‘Pigs game today gave me some answers.  The Twitter machine gave me some more.  Instead of a post with charts and predictions, I’m left with reporting the answers and just a few unanswered questions.  Here’s what I’ve got:

Image:  Cheryl Pursell

Image: Cheryl Pursell


1. IronPigs Rotation Out of the Break

As the ‘Pigs come back from a few days off (except Tyler Henson, who will represent the IronPigs in the AAA All Star Game at Werner Park in Omaha, NE) and head to Rochester for four games, here’s what’s being reported:

(July 16)

Thursday:  Nola

Friday:  Biddle

Saturday: O’Sullivan

Sunday: Berken

Then, the IronPigs return home for a 7-day stand, on Monday July 20, to face Toledo for four games and Syracuse for three.  If everything holds (and it might not–you’ll see in a minute) then the starters for the home stand should be:

Monday: Vasquez

Tuesday (11:35AM): Nola

Wednesday: Biddle

Thursday: O’Sullivan

Friday: Berken

Saturday: Vasquez

Sunday (1:35PM): Nola

That would then put Biddle and O’Sullivan in Moosic for Monday and Tuesday 7/27-28, and Nola at home on Friday 7/31–the trade deadline (dut, dut, dut, daahhh).  And, that means that 3 of Nola’s next four starts will be at home, which is nice considering that we were cheated out of a game via rain Thursday night.  And, because he pitched in P’tucket Friday night, he won’t appear in the Futures Game today.

But, it’s never that simple, right?  Because…

2. How Philadelphia’s Rotation Stacks Up

Philly’s rotation should be announced in the coming days, and yes, it’s possible that Nola gets called up and everything goes kerplop (kerplooey) on my projections above.  The interesting thing about what the Phillies need is that they don’t return until Friday, then they have two off days in their next 11.  If they’re smart (I know, I know…) here’s what they’re thinking:

Friday 7/17 HOME Miami:  Billingsley

Saturday: Williams

Sunday: Hamels

Monday (HOME Tampa): Buchanan

Tuesday: Morgan

Wednesday: Billingsley

Thursday: OFF

Friday (at cubs): Hamels

Saturday: Buchanan

Sunday:  Morgan

Monday: OFF

Tuesday (at Toronto): Williams

Wednesday: Hamels

Thursday (HOME Atlanta): Buchanan

Friday 7/31: Morgan


Or, something like that.  An alternative would be to have Morgan and/or Buchanan start those first two games, and then be available to Option during the off days.  Decisions will have to be made on whether Billingsley and/or Williams are effective enough going forward, or they’ll go the way of Kevin Correia (editor’s note:  Williams giving up runs in Low-A as we go to WordPress…).  An Option of Morgan and/or Buchanan would be handy to free up a roster spot for an extra relief pitcher OR an extra batter, with the games in Toronto using the DH.

3. What Other Questions Are Left?

Well, where does this leave Sev Gonzalez?  I don’t have him in Allentown or Philadelphia above, but he’d be another who could make a start in Philly and be optioned to make room for another player, as he was just recently.  Next, where is Kevin Correia?  He was DFA’d, but we haven’t heard whether he elected free agency, accepted his assignment, or was released.  I know he’s probably not in a big hurry to pitch for us, but once you start weeding out injured pitchers and trading some away, we’re going to find ourselves short again.  Why do you think Sean O’Sullivan stuck around?  His quickest possible route back to the Majors, that’s why.  Jerome Williams is due to pitch today for Lakewood, and Billingsley for the Phillies–so we’ll see how they do and possibly re-work the above rotations.

4. Are More Promotions From Reading Possible?  What About Eflin and Lively?

We saw Lively the other day, and although there are some interesting tools there, and he got the win, I’m not sure he’s really ready for AAA batters just yet.  He needs to be more effective commanding his fastball, as it sometimes had some arm-side run and other times came in a bit flat.  When he got on top of it and kept it low, it seemed to have a bit more life and made his change more effective as well.  I did like the change, and he did reasonably well with it, but had no feel at all for his breaking pitch the day we were there–without that third pitch AAA batter will probably have a field day.  JMHO–we’ve seen him twice.

Eflin is among the younger players in the Eastern League, and will be returning from the Pan Am games at some point.  I think they’ll prefer to see him settle in a bit before considering promotion to AAA.  If they don’t think he’s ready then they won’t rush him.

5. That’s Just Pitchers, Though, Any Bats Heading Our Way?

OF Kelly Dugan is the one we’re waiting for.  However, he’s not been hitting for power just yet, coming off his injury, and I think they’re waiting for that to develop a bit more.  I’d look for him before August first, though, regardless of what else might happen with trades and promotions and whatnot.  OF Cam Perkins, whom we had last season, should be back with us as well, but has been nursing a sore back.  They’ll probably want to see him fully healthy first.  A Perkins–Altherr–Dugan outfield is still possible in Allentown this season.

The other player of note is 1B/DH Brock Stassi.  His numbers, experience, and professionalism have certainly earned him the right to be promoted to the IronPigs.  However, I think the Phillies organization sees him as more of an organizational guy, and is waiting for a spot to open up in the Canzler/McGuiness/Henson group before he gets the nod.  The ‘Pigs have had extra roster spots, but not a ton of opportunity to play, with the aforementioned veterans about–all who have been playing well.  But again, once we get beyond the trade deadline, some moves may be made.  Stay tuned.

6. What If I Press The [Advanced] Button?

The [Advanced] button will take you to a ticket page for the Tuesday 7/21 game in Philadelphia.  With the ‘Pigs playing at 11:35AM it means the opportunity to see two games if you have the day off.  It is also Nola’s turn to pitch, so you’ll get to see him regardless.

If you press that button a second time, you’ll  have the opportunity to purchase tickets in Moosic for Monday 7/27.  It should be Biddle’s turn, and we’ll get to see how he does on the road.  IIRC, he’s done better on the road versus at home, for Reading.

Who’s with me?


See you at the park–Wednesday is AAA-All Star Party for Season Ticket Holders, and the Pigs return a week from Monday, 7/20.


Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Tags: , ,

1 reply

  1. My older brother was repeatedly mentioning going to that morning game out of the break (after Dog Night the first night), and I just moved a health appointment I discovered was on the same day. That is going to work out like gangbusters if Nola’s there that day.

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