“You got me
in a corner
You got me
against the wall”
Outfielder Nick Williams returns to the IronPigs for the first time since his MLB call-up on June 30, 2017. He was optioned to make room for Scott Kingery, who was healthy enough to return from the Injured List. The 2018 season began with Nick in a time-share on the Phillies, with Aaron Altherr, in right field. Injuries and circumstances led to him becoming just about the full-time right fielder amassing 407 at-bats in 140 games. Along the way, he became an accomplished pinch-hitter as well. His ending slash line was .256/.324/.425 to go along with 17 HRs.
Then came the off-season. Bryce Harper is a Phillie, in case you hadn’t heard. Also, Andrew McCutchen. Regular playing time for Nick has become very difficult to come by, and without getting consistent at-bats, Nick’s numbers have suffered. He’s looking like .180/.231/.262 in 38 games–but with only 61 at-bats. He’s here in AAA now to get a look at consistent playing time, get his swing on track, and get back to the Majors.
“Take back your
You can bet Nick’s not happy to be back in AAA after almost two years in the big leagues. It’s not just the money, but the clubhouse and the buses and the lifestyle–it’s all different, and not in a good way.
Here’s the thing, though: Nick is very important to the Phillies. He may feel trapped, but the big league club needs a fourth outfielder and a left-handed bat off the bench. They need the best version of Nick Williams. Aaron Altherr is gone. Roman Quinn is injured. Ditto Dylan Cozens, who hasn’t been playing well even before his bum foot shut him down. If Nick can get things going quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back with the Phillies before the IronPigs leave Allentown the day after Memorial Day. A team with a Scott Kingery probably doesn’t need a Sean Rodriguez and a Phil Gosselin. Or, Nick could be traded to a place that can give him Major League at-bats on a consistent basis–but the return there could be helpful to the Phillies, too, and such a trade probably won’t happen unless Nick is playing well.
“Well, you can keep me
painted in a corner
You can look away,
but it’s not over
You’re jammin’ me”
If Nick Williams doesn’t play well, he may not get called back, and they might not be able to trade him. He’ll just be an IronPig. I like him of course, but if he’s still here later in the summer, that won’t be a good thing for any of us. Here’s hoping things go well hitting that MLB ball in the minor league parks.
With nothing guaranteed, you can bet the Phillies are making calls on outfielders as we steam ahead towards the trade deadline–regardless of what might happen with Nick Williams. They are painfully thin at the position right now, and Odubel Herrera hasn’t been hitting well. Scott Kingery will see some time in center field, and you can put Andrew McCutchen there from time to time if you have a good-hitting Nick Williams to play left field. However, if someone has to miss any amount of time, it weakens the team greatly.
And while a trade could happen, you’ve also got to consider the two guys on the IronPigs who have MLB experience: Lane Adams is hitting .287/.357/.543/.899 with 8 HR in 35 games. “LA Swiftness” has been known to swipe a bag or two–he has three stolen bases thus far for the IronPigs–and can fill-in in center field if needed, although I tend to think of him as more of a corner guy. He’s right handed.
Another good right-handed choice might be Shane Robinson. He has more MLB experience; he even started a World Series game when he was with St Louis. He’s been putting up some nice numbers in AAA this season as well: .330/.414/.455/.869. He also has three base swipes, and I think of him as a little quicker out there in center field. “Suga” Shane has 4 dingers.
Robinson and Adams are not on the 40-man roster, of course, but at this juncture I feel like there are some moves that could be made–either DFA’s or 60-Day I.L.–so I’m not terribly worried about that.
The IronPigs return from a southern trip where they scuffled to a 2-4 record while visiting Durham and Charlotte. Those are two good clubs, but with the roster depleted by call-ups and injuries, and the rotation reeling, it’s tough sledding. The Smets and the Bisons are in town for a seven-game home stand, and the Pigs will look to get back on track.
Roster Update: Two GCL pitchers joined the IronPigs on their road trip to try to bolster the bullpen, which has also been impacted by the injury bug and the needs of the big team. With Pivetta still here (he starts tonight) and Nick Williams joining, perhaps that can be something to build around. The loss of De Los Santos and Cole Irvin to Philadelphia, and the struggles of young JoJo Romero have really hit the rotation hard. Here’s a summary of recent roster moves:
Cole Irvin has been promoted to Philadelphia from Lehigh Valley on 5/12
Seth McGarry has been promoted to Lehigh Valley from Extended Spring Training on 5/14
Alexis Rivero has been assigned to Extended Spring Training from Lehigh Valley on 5/14
Alexis Rivero has been promoted to Lehigh Valley from Extending Spring Training on 5/15
Kyle Arjona has been promoted to Lehigh Valley from GCL Phillies East (R) on 5/17
Abdallah Aris has been promoted to Lehigh Valley from Williamsport (R) on 5/17
Enyel De Los Santos has been promoted to Philadelphia from Lehigh Valley on 5/17
Tyler Gilbert has been placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain on 5/17
Tom Eshelman has been promoted to Lehigh Valley from Reading (AA) on 5/18
JoJo Romero has been assigned to Reading (AA) from Lehigh Valley on 5/18
Nick Williams has not been officially added to the roster at time of publishing; he is not in the lineup tonight.
Nick Pivetta is expected to start tonight, followed by Tom Eshelman returning to make his AAA 2019 debut in place of JoJo Romero on Wednesday. Tom’s numbers in Reading suffered some nights due to lack of quality defense behind him. I saw his last start last Friday, though, and it looked like 2017 Eshelman. I’m hopeful. Thursday looks like Drew Anderson, with Friday for Tyler Viza as the Bisons rumble into town. Of course, rain, rehabs, other roster moves–it can all change.
See you at the park,
Lyrics to “Jammin Me” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers used as illustration for educational purposes only. The song was released in 1987, and written by Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Mike Campbell
Featured Image: Cheryl Pursell