Wednesday night, the Phillies designated left-hander Joely Rodriguez for assignment, taking him off of the 40-man roster and using the spot to promote Casey Fien to the big league bullpen. After sticking with Rodriguez for two months, and seeing no end in sight to his struggles, the Phillies had finally had enough and made the decision that not only wasn't he right for their bullpen, his spot on the 40-man roster was being wasted.
Truth be told, there likely are at least a couple other spots that are becoming nothing more than waste material as far as holding down spots on the 40-man roster and the Phillies have enough of a sample size not only from the players occupying those spots, but from the young players who may be in line to take those spots, so that they can start making some moves.
When Rodriguez was designated, many thought Hoby Milner was going to be the one getting the call. Milner was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Cleveland Indians, but was returned late in Spring Training when the Indians decided they couldn't keep him on the major league roster. The 26-year old lefty has been impressive with Lehigh Valley this season. He didn't allow his first run until June 1st, going 19 1/3 innings without allowing a run. Not an earned run, a run of any kind. He's had a couple rough outings in June, but has also had a couple of very strong outings, with the overall result being a 1.88 ERA in 19 relief appearances covering 24 innings, during which Milner has struck out 23.
So why wasn't Milner the one to get the call? On the same night that Rodriguez was DFA, Milner threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball for Lehigh Valley, allowing just one hit and no walks, while striking out five of the seven batters that he retired. With that, Milner is off the board for a couple days until he would be able to work again and the Phillies wanted someone who could be plugged in as quickly as needed.
The big league bullpen consists of just one left-hander though and that one guy, Adam Morgan, hasn't exactly been a smashing success. Morgan, 27, has been back-and-forth between Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia and has a 9.58 ERA with the Phillies this season in four relief appearances. In his career, the Phillies have had him in the majors as a starter (36 starts, 5.43 ERA) and as a reliever (6 games, 7.71 ERA) and neither has seemed to work well for him.
Morgan has been somewhat effective in the minors, pitching to a 3.52 ERA over all or parts of six seasons. His stuff just hasn't translated to being able to cut it at the major league level. The Phillies have been patient with him, in hopes that they would be able to salvage what was once thought to be a pretty lively left arm. Now though, the time is coming for them to decide that maybe it's just not going to work and send him along the same route that they've taken with Joely Rodriguez, which opens a spot for Milner to make his major league debut.
The bottom line is that the Phillies have seen enough of Morgan to have plenty of evidence on him to make a decision about how he might fit into their plans for the future. Right now, it appears that he doesn't. His only saving grace is the fact that he's left-handed. Truth be told, if he were right-handed, he would have probably been ditched before now. It's very possible that if they were to put him on waivers in an attempt to send him to Lehigh Valley outright, he might be claimed. He's got major league experience and he's left-handed. There could be a team looking to make him somewhat of a reclamation project that would be willing to bring him and see if they might have the magic elixir to fix him.
Right-hander Jesen Therrien is also putting himself into a position where he may deserve a look, but that likely won't come until he's had a little more work at the Triple-A level. The Canadian prospect was recently promoted to Lehigh Valley from Reading, where he had posted a 2-1 record and a 1.26 ERA in 21 relief appearance, striking out 39 batters in 28 2/3 innings of work for the Fightins. He's pitched in two games with Lehigh Valley and hasn't allowed an earned run, striking out four in four innings.
The rest of the potential bullpen call-ups from Lehigh Valley are much more of the retread kind of pitcher. Michael Mariot has spent time with the Phillies, posting a 5.82 ERA in 25 games with them last season. He holds a 5.98 ERA in the majors in 44 overall games with the Phillies and Kansas City Royals. Cesar Ramos has been in the majors for all or part of eight seasons with San Diego, Tampa Bay, the Angels and Texas, posting a 4.02 ERA. The IronPigs have had to slide him into a rotation spot because their staff has been hit by call-ups and injuries, and he's actually pitched pretty well for them this season with an overall mark of 4-1 and a 1.82 ERA in 12 relief appearances and four starts.
The IronPigs closer has been Pedro Beato, who leads the International League in saves with 18 in 19 opportunities. Beato has a 1.91 ERA in 25 relief appearances this season and hasn't blown a save since April 29th, and had a streak of 14 2/3 scoreless innings. He also hasn't allowed a baserunner in 14 of his 25 outings, with 10 walks and 22 strikeouts on the season. The 30-year old righty has 84 major league games under his belt with the Mets, Boston and Atlanta and an MLB ERA of 4.34.