Phillippe Aumont will jog (or stride, or maybe jump over the foul line) to the mound Friday night, grab the baseball and start a game for your Philadelphia Phillies. It may seem like just another sentence in the Season of Sentences You Thought You'd Never Read, but there may be some actual meaning behind this one.
This is a shot at redemption for Aumont in a season that has been filled with a recent stretch of baseball that is about as unwatchable as this great game gets.
And, yet, almost amazingly, Aumont himself doesn't even seem that excited.
Aumont on call-up: "It’s another opportunity that I’m really grateful for. I worked hard. Can’t say it’s going to be the prettiest thing."
— Tom Housenick (@TomHousenick) June 18, 2015
Damn. That's right, Phillippe Aumont is back in the Majors but is essentially telling us, "I don't know how this is going to go. I might be out of the game by about 7:30."
Somehow, there's a sort of comfort in that. He'll fit right in with the way this season has gone, and that's okay. Because, to be honest, Aumont, now 26, has been telling us with his pitching over the past few years that he hasn't had any idea how this whole thing works.
He has toiled in the minors for what seems like far too long, but he's kept his head up enough to find his way back to the Phillies' roster. That's almost a Herculean feat in itself, because when he walked off the mound last August, I wasn't sure we'd see Aumont pitch in the Majors ever again.
So that sheepish attitude that Aumont is going into the game with? That's alright. He doesn't know how things are going to go? Fine. That's essentially the way this entire season has gone.
And for once, there may be something to root for Friday night. We aren't sitting around trying to defend Chase Utley's BABIP, viewing Carlos Ruiz's career come to a sad end, or watching Jerome Williams attempt to rocket his ERA into the moon. We get to see an attempted reclamation project that might work, and might not. It's these moments that the hardcorest of hardcore fans tune in for, the hope that you might see something new or interesting.
Aumont's 2015 season has been heavy on starting pitching. Once again, another sentence you probably thought you wouldn't read, considering he seemed destined for the bullpen from the moment the Phillies acquired him. A failed starting experiment between Clearwater and Reading in 2010 brought Aumont one step closer to eternal life in the bullpen.
There were signs of life when he pitched for the Phils in 2012, but the walks were a problem. The walks continued to haunt him in 2013 (and apparently Rich Dubee did, too), and his Majors experience last season was disastrous.
With the back and forth between Aumont, Dubee and others in 2013, it was even somewhat hard to imagine Aumont surviving the off-season. He did, though, and somehow survived this past off-season too. There's one thing to say for sure: The Phillies have had numerous opportunities to cut ties with Aumont, but they've stood by him.
That's led to 10 starts in AAA this season (14 appearances total). He allowed eight walks in a single game on May 23, then claimed after the game that he had a tough time with sun glare. He then followed that game with six walks on May 28. It has not been smooth sailing at all times.
Along the way, however, there have been bright spots. His best outing of the year saw him go seven shutout innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. He struck out 9 and 7 respectively in his last two starts before getting this call-up. There may be some reason to believe.
There is a reality, though, and that is obvious. Aumont's BB/9 rate is still 5.68, and there are still those issues controlling pitches. His strikeout rate is actually down from last season's AAA numbers.
The Phillies' rotation is in flux at the moment. We don't know how many games Hamels will miss. Jerome Williams has gone to the DL. Chad Billingsley is lurking, but his return is not yet clear. Kevin Correia's addition shouldn't strike fear in any competitor.
So Aumont will take to the mound Friday night against the Cardinals, and nobody's really sure how it's going to go. In a perfect world, this is some sort of odd prelude to Aumont getting a stranglehold on a back-end rotation spot for years to come.
There's also a chance that Jeff Francoeur may need to be on call for hero duty once more. We hope we don't have to see that again. This may truly be Aumont's last chance to show he has what it takes to stick in the Majors. If Friday doesn't go well, though, we'll just go ahead and hope that bullpen phone is on the hook.