No more waiting. No more rationalizing. No more wait and see.
In the wake of the demotion of Nick Pivetta to Lehigh Valley and the promotion of Jerad Eickhoff to the big league rotation once again, the Phillies are making one thing perfectly clear.
This baseball team is not messing around anymore.
Pivetta entered the 2019 season with monstrous expectations. Perhaps they were too high. Virtually everyone predicted a breakout season for the right-hander, but this season has been an unmitigated disaster. Despite picking up the victory in last night’s 14-3 victory over the Mets, Pivetta’s performance was a disappointment.
He allowed 10 baserunners and threw 100 pitches in five innings. With a bullpen in desperate need of a starting pitcher to step up and give the team a lift, Pivetta couldn’t efficiently move through New York’s lineup and needed to be pulled earlier than manager Gabe Kapler would have liked.
While everyone suspected Pivetta’s leash wouldn’t last forever, it is surprising it was yanked this quickly. He had made four starts, lasted just 18.1 innings and sported a ghastly ERA of 8.35 with a FIP of 6.41. He had struck out just 17.2% of hitters this year after whiffing 27.1% last season, and his walk rate had jumped from 7.4% to 8.6%. Hitters were batting a scary .369 against him, numbers which apparently were simply unsustainable any longer.
It’s likely Pivetta would have had a longer rope if Aaron Nola was not also dealing with issues of his own, but with options left, the Phils could afford to send Pivetta to AAA to try and figure things out and get this rotation some immediate help. It’s also a wake-up call for the 26-year-old, who was criticized by Kapler last week for not being as prepared as he should be at the beginning of his starts.
It’s clear the Phillies are finished allowing young, promising pitchers to scuffle for multiple starts with no consequences, especially when there are other alternatives available. Eickhoff pitched four shutout innings in relief of Pivetta last night, struck out six, gave up three hits and walked none, and before his issues with numbness in his pitching hand, was one of the team’s most effective starters. The Phillies also have depth in AAA with Enyel de los Santos, Cole Irvin, JoJo Romero, Drew Anderson and Ranger Suarez, and it appears they are looking outside the organization for help, too.
The New York #Mets and Philadelphia #Phillies are showing strong interest in Texas #Rangers ace Mike Minor, who is off to a dazzling start. He pitched a 3-hit CG shutout Tuesday vs. #Angels, and has a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts. He's owed $9.5 million this year and in 2020— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 17, 2019
Minor is not really an “ace,” with a 3.94 FIP that indicates his 2.60 ERA is due to a little bit of luck, a strikeout rate of 21.0% that is about the same as last year’s 20.6% and an increased walk rate of 7.6% from 5.9%. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt the Phillies to add a left-handed arm with experience who can either start or pitch out of the bullpen.
Regardless of what other moves the Phils make, it’s clear general manager Matt Klentak is putting the entire roster on notice — from here on our, results matter. Potential no longer guarantees anyone anything. If someone is underperforming, they’re not going to be playing for very long.
The smart money says that Pivetta will be back, that his time in AAA will benefit him and that he’ll play an important role in the 2019 season, whether it be in the rotation or the back of the bullpen. But Nick Pivetta found out the hard way that the rebuild is over.
It’s time to win, and the Phillies aren’t messing around anymore.