It's a good thing I couldn't find any glamor shots of Stutes, because all I'd want to do is talk about his overall adorableness, and no one wants that, right? (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
When the Phillies broke camp in 2011, Michael Stutes didn't have a spot on the 25-man roster. I wasn't happy about that. I didn't stay unhappy for long, though. Stutes was called up at the end of April when Jose Contreras was placed on the disabled list, and he didn't look back. Stutes was immediately popular due to a combination of pitching well, his beautiful, flowing mane of hair, and his easily shoutable name. The Stuuuuuuuuutes growl became more audible as the season went on, nicely coinciding with his continued effectiveness and increased use out of the bullpen.
It didn't last forever, though. Even as the "STUUUUUUTES" got louder, Stutes himself began to stumble a bit. He had an absolutely horrendous August, giving up 15 hits and 8 runs (not to mention three homers) in 12.1 innings. That's good enough for a cool 5.84 ERA. His worst August game came on the 23rd against the Mets. I was there, and I watched him give up three runs, including a solo homer off the bat of Lucas Duda. Though his August was pretty bad, he didn't blow any saves or lose any games. The Phillies used him in several low leverage situations, and whenever he gave up runs it never cost them the game. Stutes' September was considerably better, but his last appearance of the season was pretty ugly. Of course, it was in Game 1 of the NLDS, so the three runs he coughed up didn't really matter.
Stutes chalks up his decreased effectiveness over the last two months of the season to a mechanical flaw (read more about that here). He's a self-aware guy, and I have to give him credit for openly admitting that watching himself pitch was a way to assuage boredom.
All things considered, Stutes had a good freshman campaign with the Phillies. He pitched 62 innings and ended up with a 3.63 ERA. Looking ahead, I'd like him to keep the ball on the ground more. His FB% was rather high at 47.9%, second to only Antonio Bastardo among Phillies pitchers who pitched more than occasionally. (I'm leaving off Juan Perez and Mike Zagurski. And of course, Wilson Valdez, who ranks first in FB% among Phillies pitchers with 100%.) His HR/FB rate was 8.8%, which is average to above average, but I can't help but think that his high fly ball rate is going to bite him in the ass at some point.
Stutes is but one member of the Phillies legion of promising young arms. He and Bastardo were last year's representatives, with Michael Schwimer joining the bullpen in late August, and Joe Savery and Justin DeFratus coming aboard in September. If Stutes can perform like he did in the first half of 2011, I don't think there's a danger of him getting lost in the fray. And with hair like that? It would be a crime.