Could a "baby ace" head for Philadelphia?

Thanks to a double-header on Sunday, the Phillies will need a "sixth" starter for one start on Wednesday. There aren't a lot of options out there, so who gets the call? Is it possible there could be a "baby ace" in the Phillies immediate future?

Update: The Phillies announced that they Wednesday's starter will be either Raul Valdes or Joe Savery, with relievers pitching the entire game. Julio Rodriguez will make his scheduled start for Reading on Wednesday.

Friday night's rainout against Tampa presented the Phillies with a double-header on Sunday, which didn't turn out well at all. It also presented them with a dilemma for Wednesday; who starts?

To stay "in rotation", Kyle Kendrick would be next up, but that would put him back on the mound with three days rest after throwing 93 pitches in his last outing. It would also mean that either Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, who both pitched on Sunday would need to go on three-days rest for Thursday's series finale with the Pirates. Two days in a row with a pitcher throwing on three days rest isn't a good scenario considering the struggles of the Phillies bullpen this season.

Because of those struggles, it also isn't likely that the Phillies would go with a "bullpen" game. Raul Valdes or possibly, Joe Savery could start and go as long as possible before Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee would have to draw names out of a hat to see who follows the starter and who follows that pitcher and so on. Not only does that make you weak for that game, but it rips apart your bullpen for the next couple of games. Plus, less is more when it comes to how many times the Phillies bullpen door has to open.

That turns the gaze to the minors.

If you're one of those people thinking that Tyler Cloyd (10-1, 2.08 at AA and AAA) deserves a major league start, that's an argument for another day since he pitched on Saturday and the Phillies are unlikely to make his Philadelphia debut on three days rest. It would have been a great spot for him though; a home start against a team that doesn't exactly possess a murderer's row of hitters.

Tom Cochran (5-1, 3.53) is the scheduled starter for Lehigh Valley Wednesday night. He's pitched well since returning from the DL and he's in his tenth minor league season, so he's got some experience on his side. The left-hander isn't a part of the Phillies 40-man roster, which is currently at its maximum, so something would have to be done to make room. With David Herndon out after Tommy John surgery, he could be transferred to the 60-day DL, which would easily solve the problem.

Scott Elarton and Pat Misch pitched on Sunday and Monday for Lehigh Valley, so they're both out. The only other option would be if the Phillies had the IronPigs go with a bullpen game Tuesday night and they promoted Matt Wright (0-1, 3.31), but he was just recently signed out of the independent Atlantic League; 'nuff said.

Here's where things get interesting.

Would the Phillies consider using a starter from Double-A Reading? Well, the R-Phils have Julio Rodriguez (4-1, 3.01) scheduled to start Wednesday and that's an intriguing proposition. As with Cloyd, facing the Pirates might not be a worst-case scenario for a young pitcher and it wouldn't disrupt Rodriguez' schedule. It would be one of those, 'you're back to the minors no matter how well you pitch' situations.

One minor glitch in the plan is that Rodriguez is not on the 40-man roster, but even though there's room, the Phillies might not want to start his option count just yet. Rodriguez isn't close to being Rule 5 eligible or needing to be put onto the 40-man, so it would be a bit of a risky move. Still, it's not out of the question and would simply be a confirmation that Rodriguez would be on the fast track for the Phillies, something that it already appears he can handle.

The question then comes down to; is Rodriguez ready for a major league start?

In speaking with one scout, who has seen Rodriguez on a number of occasions, the reports were good. "I wouldn't say he's major league ready, because he's still very young and has a lot to learn. On the other hand though, he's got good stuff and I don't think he'd be completely out of his element for a start or two."

It will be an interesting decision and could tip the Phillies hand as to how they're leaning for the future. If they do go with Rodriguez, rest assured he'll be moving quickly toward the majors and might be second behind Cloyd in consideration for a full rotation spot.

With the need for an emergency starter and the possible return of Chase Utley to the Phillies lineup, Wednesday is turning out to be an interesting day in the Phillies organization.

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