Ah, Springtime. The season when a person's fancy turns to "Aggghh! How could I forget how brittle these baseballing &^$#s are!!" Just in case you were feeling at all rosy after last night's 11-2 drubbing at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies have announced -- and it has been reported friend of the network Eliot Shorr-Parks -- that heretofore acceptable innings eater and thick brow haver John Lannan has been put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee. That sounds really painful, but other than that, I have very little insight about what an injury to one's quadriceps tendon entails. Best case scenario, Lannan is back when eligible in 15 days, ready to give the team a ~4.00 ERA and stability from the fifth rotation spot. Worst case scenario is, well, worse because we don't really know what that might be. Presumably this is relatively minor.
The Phillies are expected to make a move, likely calling up one of Tyler Cloyd or Jonathan Pettibone from Lehigh Valley, though that is total speculation on my part. Local heartbreaker Adam Morgan is likely not in the front office's plans, as he is not on the 40-man roster, his arbitration clock is likely at a premium, and he threw 100 pitches last night (h/t JoeCatz and Cormican). So get excited for a new guy to post low strikeouts, moderate walks, and a fairly okay ERA.
Okay, that's cynical, but I'd like to take a second to vent a bit about the fifth starter position. I know that many reasonable comments to this news will boil down to "What real value was Lannan honestly going to give the team? Dude was a 1.1 WAR pitcher in his last full year." And those arguments are actually pretty fair. But the fifth starter isn't meant to inspire reasonable discourse. Read my player preview for Lannan in the Lindy's Annual -- you'll find under the rhetoric a fairly hopeful subtext: "Say! Maybe this guy puts it all together, lowers his walk rate, and delivers on a fairly low risk salary! Maybe he's even better than we thought all along." The fifth starter is basically just someone to hope on -- maybe they're young and will put it all together; maybe they've tweaked something in their delivery; maybe they just needed a new pitching coach -- but the sad truth is that there are far more Kevin Slowey stories than Cliff Lee stories. Fifth starters are not usually heroes at the end of the season, but rather just ancillary bits.
And I at least could have accepted that quicker with Eyebrows O'Lannahan! Now I have to talk myself out of wishcasting Pettibone or Cloyd. Ah baseball! Ah humanity!