Let's get this out of the way first. Phillippe Aumont's stuff has always been filthy nasty.
Aumont has always been able to throw in the mid-90s with ease, with a devastating curveball that could cripple a batter into paralysis. But Aumont has also always been done in by his lack of control, with a career WHIP of 1.89 in 39.2 Major League innings and a 1.49 career WHIP in eight minor league seasons.
Still, whenever he did stuff like this, it was always drool-inducing.
When the Phillies first acquired Aumont from Seattle in the second Cliff Lee trade, they tried to make him a starter. It didn't work. Then they tried to make him a late-inning reliever. That didn't work either.
But when he got off to a hot start this year, and a need arose in the rotation, Aumont asked to be given another shot. And sometimes, life is full of nice surprises.
Phillippe Aumont, Starting Pitcher: 21 IP 16 H 3 ER 5 BB 16 K Last two starts: 13 IP 7 H 0 R 3 BB 9 K— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) May 13, 2015
So far this year, he has an ERA of 1.36. That's not a typo. And check out that K-BB ratio, 16-5, good for a WHIP of 1.09.
What in good heavens is going on here?
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Breen spoke with Aumont a few weeks ago and it seems as though the young right-hander has learned to relax a little bit out there and, you know, just have fun out there.
Aumont's mind-set changed in April as he packed his belongings into a red duffel bag inside the Phillies' spring-training clubhouse. The 26-year-old had been designated to the minor leagues. Each of the other 29 major-league clubs passed on him.
"It made me realize that baseball was just a phase of my life. It's not going to be the end of the world after," said Aumont, who is at triple-A Lehigh Valley. "It eased off, and I could go out there and relax. I'll give my 100 percent every day. I'll go out there and battle. But if it doesn't work out, it's not going to be the end of the world."
In other words, Aumont has chilled out.
From Pigs' broadcast, Aumont on biggest difference w/ his control since he's been starting: "I settle in. I don't panic. I don't overthrow."— Jay Floyd (@PhoulBallz) May 13, 2015
And let's not pretend like there aren't jobs to be won on the big league staff. Outside of Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang, both of whom could be gone by the end of July, there are plenty of opportunities to be a big league starter on this rebuilding team.
Is it crazy to think Aumont could be a member of this rotation this summer?
I know what you're thinking right now, "We may win that Cliff Lee trade yet!" Well, hold your horses, this IS Phillippe Aumont we're talking about. Aside from his excellent start to the 2015 season, we haven't seen this kind of work from him before.
So pump those brakes, Aumont still has a lot to prove in Lehigh. But what he's done so far is certainly encouraging, and makes him one of the more interesting prospects to watch over the next few weeks and months.
Come on, Phillippe. Nous voulons croire.