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Floyd, Meet Void

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At least for now, Gavin Floyd's stint in the Phillies rotation, begun with such promise in the last week of spring training, is over:

After winning a job by posting a 3.16 ERA in Spring Training, Floyd consistently stumbled during the regular season. Thursday's performance continued the common theme of falling behind and missing spots.

"He's a one-pitch pitcher right now, and he's had trouble getting his breaking ball over," manager Charlie Manuel said after the game. "He has a good breaking ball, but [he] has trouble repeating it."

The right-hander suffered through another short night, lasting four innings, and got pounded in a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Floyd allowed all seven runs on seven hits and four walks, including three home runs.
Over his past four starts, Floyd posted an 11.09 ERA.

"I look at a guy who's young and is having a hard time getting established at the Major League level," Manuel said. "He needs more experience. This guy is going to be a big-league pitcher. I knew there would be some growing pains. That's part of it." This is the second straight poor campaign for Floyd, who compiled a 6.16 ERA with the Red Barons last season, leading to whispers of concern from those who made him the fourth overall pick in the June 2001 draft.

While it didn't work out, I have trouble criticizing either Manuel or GM Pat Gillick for any of their decisions on Floyd these last two months. The initial move to put him in the rotation over Ryan Franklin was a high-risk, high-reward gambit. Then, after a couple rough initial starts, Floyd showed some signs of getting it together: he won three straight decisions between April 30 and May 11, and was cruising through five innings of his next start in Milwaukee on May 17.

And then the roof fell in. A five-run sixth inning sent the Phillies to defeat that night, and his failure to get through the same inning six days later contributed to the Phils' painful 16-inning loss in New York. Two more failed starts--against the Brewers last weekend and in Los Angeles Thursday--punched Floyd's ticket back up the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The question is: what now? As TGP's phatj noted at the start of the season  Floyd hasn't pitched consistently well since his 2004 stint at AA Reading. His velocity is down, his changeup seems more rumor than truth, and his confidence is shot. At 23, he's certainly still young enough to have a career--but with youngsters Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Eude Brito in the big-league rotation, four more legit major-league prospects at Reading in Mathieson, Gonzalez, Segovia and Haigwood, and another crop coming up behind them at Clearwater, it's starting to feel like Floyd will have to make his future in some other baseball home.