When Philadelphia Phillies' fifth starting pitcher John Lannan hit the 15-day disabled list with a strained knee tendon, two questions came to mind. The first was how long Lannan would have to sit out, and the second (and more important), who would take his place in the Phillies' rotation?
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki answered the first question last week on Thursday, April 18 when he tweeted the following:
Manuel said Lannan could miss six to eight weeks. Maybe less.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 18, 2013
While the disabled list qualification stood at 15 days, Lannan could very well miss as much as two months. Consequently, someone would need to be called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place. But who were the candidates, and who would win out?
Zolecki also laid out the candidates in another tweet:
Amaro said Biddle not option to replace Lannan. Replacement to come from Triple-A: Morgan, Martin, Cloyd, Pettibone. Morgan pitched today.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 18, 2013
B.J. Rosenberg also has a spot in the IronPigs' rotation, but he's served solely as a reliever in the major leagues and hasn't fared well in that role.
Martin is in need of more seasoning, leaving Cloyd, Morgan and Pettibone as candidates to make it to the majors.
Cloyd was viewed as the favorite, as he's the only one of the bunch to have major league experience. He was called up to make a spot start for a sick Cole Hamels last August and fared off against another starting pitcher making his MLB debut, Matt Harvey. The Phillies failed to provide Cloyd with any run support and lost the game, 3-1.
Morgan has the most potential and the highest praise of the bunch, ranked as the Phillies' fifth and seventh-best prospect by Baseball America (BA) and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, respectively. As I mentioned last week, Morgan has a solid repertoire with all four pitches considered above-average.
Alas, I was wrong when I said that Morgan would make the majors before Pettibone. According to Zolecki once again (I promise this is the last one), starter Jonathan Pettibone has been called up to take Lannan's place in the Phillies' rotation:
RHP Jonathan Pettibone will start for the Phillies tomorrow. A roster move will be made tomorrow to accommodate him.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 21, 2013
What can be expected of Pettibone? In my opinion, he sits between Cloyd and Morgan in terms of talent. While he lacks overwhelming speed, Pettibone, ranked as the fourth-best prospect by both BA and Mayo, tops out at 92-93 miles per hour on his fastball, which should be more than sufficient. His control is excellent, and along with his changeup, is considered the best in the Phillies' system, according to BA.
Pettibone will not be a starter who overwhelms the opposition with his pitching, so there may not be too many strikeouts. Fortunately, what you also won't see a lot of from Pettibone are walks. Per Baseball-Reference.com, he has averaged a 2.6 BB/9 rate over his minor league career.
In addition, Pettibone sports a minor league career 3.44 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. And though he's off to a rough start in 2013 with an 0-1 record and 9.64 ERA, given his abilities and praise concerning control, he's probably the safest bet to fill in for Lannan.
Maybe Morgan has more potential. Maybe Cloyd has the experience. But Pettibone has the readiness the other two lack, and most importantly, he has the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation until further notice. While he'll be up against some stiff competition in A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night, Pettibone should be able to hold his own in his major league debut at Citizens Bank Park.
Congratulations to Pettibone on his call-up and best of luck to him as he starts his major league career.