The Phillies so far this season have a game of musical chairs going with the pitching staff. Brad Lidge, JC Romero, and Joe Blanton all started the season on the DL. Kyle Kendrick who had been demoted to the bullpen, got promoted back to the rotation. Andrew Carpenter went from Opening Day starter for Lehigh Valley to bullpen for Philadelphia. Nelson Figueroa was released by the Mets, then signed by the Phillies and sent to bullpen. As a result, Andrew Carpenter was sent back down to AAA Lehigh Valley. As Romero comes off the DL, JA Happ goes on the DL. Romero to the pen and Figueroa to the rotation.
Get all that? Phillies pitchers have been bouncing all over the place like human pinballs. Within a couple of weeks, both Lidge and Blanton should be coming off the DL. It is very possible that Happ is ready to come off at the same time. So some big decisions are going to have to be made soon. Once Happ and Blanton are back with the club, Kendrick will probably be optioned to AAA to resume as a starter. Figueroa may be DFA’d depending on his play.
The person who is benefitting from this all? Rule 5 Draft pick David Herndon. Herndon has gotten into some games here and there in basically a mop up capacity. His overall numbers do not tell the whole story in the least bit. Outside of the Marlins game in which he gave up 4 earned runs, Herndon has done a good job. Only one hit in that game was hit hard. Everything else were balls beaten into the ground for infield singles. He will have to continue to do a good job to have a chance to beat out Kendrick, Contreras, Bastardo, and Figueroa. Luckily, Kendrick and Bastardo can be sent down to the minors. Figueroa may just be DFA’d unless he has a spectacular game on the mound AND at the plate against Arizona.this weekend. Based on what we have seen so far, I think that Herndon has a good chance to stay in the bullpen.
In my last entry I spoke about the fifth spot in the rotation. Today I wanted to talk about another important decision involving the number five, or should I say “V”. Since the 60s, minor league players have been drafted and sent to new teams for next to nothing. Players like Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Bobby Bonilla, Roberto Clemente, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, and even former Phillie and now MLB Network Analyst Mitch “Mitchie Poo” Williams were all selected in the rule 5 draft. You could say that a lot of teams are kicking themselves for the players the do not select to protect. The Phillies are hoping to catch a break again from the Rule V draft.
This past winter, the Phillies, with the last pick in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, picked up relief pitcher David Herndon from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Herndon’s numbers in 2009 were okay. He threw 65.1 innings over 50 games, all for the Angels’ AA affiliate. In those 65.1 IP, he gave up 70 hits (9 HRs), 14 BBs, 35 Ks, and 22 ERs for a 5-6 record with 11 Saves and a 3.03 ERA.
Herndon had never pitched above AA but may be getting his shot this season. So far this spring the righty has thrown 9.1 scoreless innings. Over those 9.1 innings Herndon has faced 35 batters. Of those 35, only 8 have gotten to first base. Herndon has given up 4 singles, 4 base on balls, and struck out 3. The thing that sticks out about his numbers is his groundball rate. 21 of 35 batters grounded out facing Herndon. That’s 60% of the batters faced! Granted he is more likely to be a mop up guy than a setup man, but with that kind of groundball rate, he could develop into one heck of a reliever.
So, with the final days of spring coming to a close and Herndon still with the Phillies, his chances are getting better and better to make the squad. I honestly think that if Kendrick does not get the fifth spot, which I obviously think will be the case, that he will be sent to Lehigh Valley to continue steady work. That bodes well for Herndon. Hopefully Herndon can keep up his solid work into late October/ early November.