Since the Phillies postponed today's home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, they lost the off day for scheduled starter Kyle Kendrick that would have allowed him to pitch on Saturday against the Miami Marlins. So, the Phillies must come up with a starter one day sooner. The Phillies have some options; who will they pick? Here are the possibilities.
Pettibone missed time in Spring Training after developing a "sore" right shoulder, his throwing shoulder. This was the same shoudler that Pettibone strained and knocked him out for the rest of the season last August. Pettibone appeared in a Spring game March 27 before the team went north. Pettibone was optioned to the minor leagues.
Pettibone started yesterday (Sunday) for AAA Lehigh Valley. He went five innings and gave up three earned runs. It is not a stellar start, but it was not terrible. If Pettibone could give the Phillies five innings a start until Cole Hamels returns from his injury, that would be serviceable.
Buchanan was impressive this Spring Training. In five appearances (four starts), Buchanan went 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA. Opponents batted just .146 off of him and his WHIP was just .067. Despite the strong Spring, the Phillies sent Buchanan to AAA Lehigh Valley, where he would have more time to develop. Buchanan pitched Opening Day for the Iron Pigs, and kept impressing opponents. Buchanan went six innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Buchanan picked up the win as the Iron Pigs defeated the Pawtucked Red Sox 4-0.
Despite the strong Spring and strong opening at Lehigh Valley, Buchanan would require that the Phillies find more room on their 40-man roster. The Phillies could cut minor league reliever Luis Garcia or outfielder Tyson Gillies, but they may not wish to lose either at this time, or get started on one of Buchanan's option years. Some view Buchanan as the next Kyle Kendrick.
Manship could have an opportunity to start on Saturday since he is already on the Phillies' active 25-man roster. To add Pettibone or Buchanan, the Phillies would have to option a reliever to the minors. Coming into the season, Mario Hollands would have been the obvious one. However, Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg seems to really like Hollands, as evidenced by Hollands' three appearances in the Phillies' first six games. The only relievers that have not impressed in the early going are Jonathan Pettibone (who is going nowhere) and Brad Lincoln, whom the Phillies cannot send to the minor leagues. They can attempt to outright Lincoln, but doing so would expose him to waivers and allo wany other team to pick him up.
Like Buchanan, Manship had an impressive Spring Training. Manship was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five games, four of them starts. Manship may only be stretched out enough to give the Phillies at best five innings on Saturday. That could put more pressure on the bullpen, but then again: would the other options?
So Who Will It Be?
If I were making the decision, I would give Manship the start against the Marlins on Saturday. While he may not go deep into a game, the Phillies would not have to make any roster decisions just yet. After Hamels pitched a four-inning rehab start on Sunday, it is clear that he could be back in a Phillies uniform later this month.
Since it could potentially only be one start against the Marlins, one start against the Braves, and then maybe just one more against the Los Angeles Dodgers, I would see if Manship can bridge the gap until Hamels returns and let Buchanan and Pettibone continue their work in the minors. There is no spot in the Phillies rotation for either when Hamels returns, and Manship may be the one most able to swing back to the bullpen upon Hamels' return, in the way that Chad Gaudin would have, had his signing gone through.