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Geary Down; Lopez Up

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The Phils called up journeyman relief pitcher Aquilino Lopez from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Saturday, sending Geoff Geary back to AAA. Lopez, claimed off waivers from Colorado last month when the Rockies thought they had a deal pending with the Boston Red Sox, is a 30 year-old right-hander who saved 14 games for Toronto in 2003, but has bounced around since then.

In four appearances for S/WB, he pitched 9 innings, giving up a run (earned), five hits and a walk while striking out 11. His only major-league appearance this season was against the Phillies on July 29, when he surrendered a run and struck out six over four innings in a 5-3 Phillies win.

It's natural to react to any Ed Wade reliever acquisition with trepidation and fear, but I actually liked this pickup when it happened, and I like the callup now. Lopez has put up great strikeout rates at every stop he's made this year (57 Ks in 56.1 IP for Los Angeles and Colorado minor-league affiliates), he seems healthy, and at 30 he's still young enough (and cheap enough) to be usable next year if things work out.

As for Geary, he is what he is: a decent 11th man on the pitching staff. His fastball seems to have picked up a little zip this season. His 4.15 ERA isn't bad, and the K/BB rate of 36/15 is fine as well. From the article, it sounds like the Phils made this move because Geary had gone three-plus in Friday night's blowout loss to the Pirates, and with Eude Brito--pitching for the first time in more than two weeks--slated to start on Sunday, Charlie Manuel wanted a long relief option. Geary should be back when rosters expand.

In all, not a particularly significant move, but one that makes sense and has some potential upside. With the Phils back in front of the wild-card chase by a half-game after Saturday's play, it's worthwhile to sweat the small stuff.