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What Philadelphia Phillies Should Do with Dave Bush Following Halladay's Injury

Matt BoczarContributor IIIMay 30, 2012

Courtesy of www.milb.com
Courtesy of www.milb.com

Roy Halladay’s injury has taken the Philadelphia Phillies from a team whose starting rotation was the one constant in a season full of ups and downs, to an area in which depth is now an issue.

At least for the next six to eight weeks.

The Phils entered the season with their starting rotation intact and with a spot-starter in Kyle Kendrick available from the bullpen.

However, for the next six to eight weeks while Halladay recovers from soreness in his shoulder, the team’s spot-starter must turn into a consistent starter.  Meanwhile, the Phils must also determine who is the best available candidate for filling a spot in the rotation should yet another injury arise.

Which leads to another decision the team must soon make.

Current minor league pitcher Dave Bush has not only pitched well at Triple-A this season, but the 32-year-old also has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can exercise beginning on Friday, June 1st.

In 10 starts this season in Triple-A, Bush has gone 4-3 with 34 strikeouts and a 2.61 ERA.  In 58.2 innings, Bush has walked just eight batters and has also pitched a complete game shutout for the team.

Bush has also held left-handed batters to a .225 batting average so far this season.

After finishing the month of April with a 3.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .284 batting average, Bush has posted a 2.37 ERA while striking out more than twice as many batters and holding opponents to a .247 average.

Bush's last stint in the major leagues led to his eventual release, but the right-hander's performances at Triple-A this season combined with his opt-out clause may earn him a call-up.
Bush's last stint in the major leagues led to his eventual release, but the right-hander's performances at Triple-A this season combined with his opt-out clause may earn him a call-up.Leon Halip/Getty Images

Bush made three starts for the Texas Rangers last season, and has 56 wins in 187 career major league starts to go with 767 strikeouts.

Bush also pitched for the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate last season, going 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts.

Although Bush’s last major league stint eventually led to his release by the Rangers, the right-hander has seemingly pitched his way into a position to receive a major league call-up once again.

But for which team?

The Phillies have had a cushion for their starting rotation so far this season with Kendrick being available to pitch in place of both Cliff Lee and, currently, Vance Worley.  Although Kendrick began the season 0-4, his most recent performance may have been one of the best of his major league career.  The former starter-turned-reliever needed just 94 pitches in a complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals as he earned his first victory of the season.

But with Kendrick’s spot in the rotation seemingly cemented for the near future, pitchers such as Bush, Scott Elarton and even Tyler Cloyd may be called up at some point should another Phils’ starter suffer an injury.

If Bush is the player the Phillies have their eye on under such a circumstance, the team may have to make a decision relatively soon before Bush potentially opts out of his current contract.

Bush’s 2.61 minor league ERA this season could make him an attractive option for another team in need of a fifth starter for their rotation, or even a spot-starter who can also pitch out of the bullpen.

In his major league career, Bush has made 23 relief appearances.

Would the Phillies call up Bush to become the long-relief option out of their bullpen?  Bush could also become the team’s spot-starter while Kendrick occupies a place in the rotation.

If Bush continued his success from Triple-A, he could even swap roles with Kendrick and remain in the rotation until Halladay returns.

Whether as a spot-starter or bullpen option, Bush could find a role in the Phils’ pitching staff.

Of course, that’s if he receives a call-up in the near future.

The Phillies could decide to call-up Elarton or Cloyd, or hope that Worley returns in time so that no call-up is immediately needed.  Both Elarton and Cloyd have enjoyed success at various levels of the team’s minor league system this season and could also fill some type of need at the major league level.

But it’s Bush’s future with the team that may need a decision soon.

The Phils may have a need that Bush can fill over the next few weeks.

He is not, however, the only option for filling such a need.

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