Mathieson, Zagurski Still Waiting For A Call

Two former Phillies relievers are awaiting a call from the big league club to help out the team's beleaguered bullpen. Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski have both recovered from injuries, but neither was given a September audition.

Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski both came into the 2009 season as huge question marks. Both were recovering from Tommy John surgery - Mathieson from his second TJS - and weren't being counted on for anything.

Fortunately for the Phillies, both turned those question marks into exclamation points. Both pitched well as they moved up through the ranks and by the end of the season, both were at Double-A Reading.

Mathieson's return was especially impressive. After two Tommy John surgeries, he was figured to be a non-issue not just for this season, but likely for his career. Many people both inside and outside of baseball had pretty well ruled him out. Even new GM Ruben Amaro Jr. didn't sound too positive about Mathieson prior to the start of the season and cautioned against expecting too much from the right-hander.

When the season started, Mathieson was kept in extended spring training to continue to rehab and didn't start his season until late June when he was sent to the Gulf Coast League. Mathieson struck out eight in six innings of shutout baseball and the Phillies decided to jump him to Clearwater. Almost unbelievably, Mathieson threw seven more shutout innings and the Phillies again decided to challenge him by moving him up to Double-A Reading.

By this point, there was talk that Mathieson could keep moving right up the ladder and be in the majors for the month of September. Even though he started his time at Reading with six more shutout innings, the Phillies kept him at Reading. By mid-August, Mathieson had a 2.00 ERA at Reading, but still didn't get a promotion to Triple-A and the Phillies had decided to just let him finish the season with the R-Phils. They also tabbed him to pitch in the Arizona Fall League as part of the Phillies contingent on the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Zagurski, having missed all of the 2008 season, started his season with Clearwater and was ready to go on opening day. Zagurski was impressive in three appearances and moved up to Reading, where he too would stay for the rest of the season, compiling a mark of 3-4 with a 3.57 ERA.

Much like Mathieson, Zagurski waited for a call to head for Triple-A, but the call never came.

It would be interesting to know whether the Phillies would have taken a different approach with Mathieson and Zagurski if they were able to know then what they know now about the back end of their bullpen.

Could Zagurski have taken over for J.C. Romero? Could Mathieson have worked into a spot where he might be saving games? We'll never know.

While the Phillies could bring either to the majors, only Zagurski, who is on the 40 man roster, would be eligible for the postseason. Mathieson would require clearing a spot on the 40 man roster and he would only be eligible to pitch through the end of the regular season.

Technically, the Phillies will need to clear a spot for Mathieson anyway, or risk having him go elsewhere as a minor league free agent after the season. Odds are that the Phillies will find a spot for him, since they wouldn't have used a spot in the AFL for him if they weren't interested in keeping him. Besides, with the time and money that they have invested in him, it would be foolish to let him go now that he's just on the doorstep of having fully returned to form.

Zagurski is also headed for the AFL and could figure in the bullpen plans for 2010. With veteran Scott Eyre likely retiring following the season, Zagurski could potentially pitch himself onto the major league roster next spring.

Scott Mathieson's 2009 season stats

Year
Tm
W
L
ERA
G
SV
IP
H/9
HR/9
BB/9
SO/9
SO/BB
2009
GCL
2
0
0.00
4
0
6.0
4.5
0.0
3.0
12.0
4.00
2009
Clearwater
0
0
0.00
5
1
7.0
5.1
0.0
3.9
11.6
3.00
2009
Reading
2
0
1.40
13
1
19.1
4.7
0.5
3.3
7.9
2.43
2009
Combined
4
0
0.84
22
2
32.1
4.7
0.3
3.3
9.5
2.83

Mike Zagurski's 2009 season stats

Year
Tm
W
L
ERA
G
SV
IP
H/9
HR/9
BB/9
SO/9
SO/BB
2009
Clearwater
0
0
0.00
3
0
3.0
6.0
0.0
0.0
3.0
2009
Reading
3
4
3.57
45
8
53.0
7.1
1.2
4.6
10.7
2.33
2009
Combined
3
4
3.38
48
8
56.0
7.1
1.1
4.3
10.3
2.37



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