A new roadblock has appeared on Mark Appel's path to the majors, this time in the form of a shoulder strain. The Phillies pitching prospect is headed to the DL for 15 days to let this new injury heal.
This isn't good news, but it's not completely out of the blue. Appel's last start for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, which was on Sunday, did not go well. He lasted just 2/3 of an inning, and in that short time he gave up four runs on four hits and two walks.
While that kind of thing can happen to pitchers every now and then, the driving force behind Appel's struggles seemed to be his velocity. Appel typically throws in the mid 90s, but according to Tom Housenick of The Morning Call, he never got above 90 on Sunday. That reduced velocity was Appel's shoulder waving a red warning flag, since it doesn't have a mouth and couldn't yell "Help me! I'm hurt!"
While Appel and his normal, non-talking shoulder take a breather, righty Ben Lively is being promoted from Double-A to take his place. Lively has been slaying at Reading this season, with a 1.87 ERA and 49 strikeouts in nine starts and 53 innings. This is a big opportunity for Lively, who has never pitched above Double-A.
Best case scenario? Lively pitches really well and gets to stay, Appel is completely healed in 15 days and comes back better than ever, and everyone is happy. Worst case scenario? Mark Appel's talking shoulder mouth takes control of Appel's body and goes on an angry, angry rampage.