They’re dropping like flies this afternoon.
The Phillies have placed Ryan Howard on the DL, obviously figuring that his ankle needs more than a day or two of rest. They’ve called up John Mayberry to take his place on the roster.
The entire Phillies infield has been on the DL now at some point this season, and the infield is obviously the heart and soul of this team. Like I said yesterday in the Power Rankings: if the Phillies can overcome this and still take the division, Charlie Manuel has to be the manager of the year in the National League. Though I’m guessing Bud Black wins it no matter what.
So can they overcome it? It seems unfair, but a lot of that has to do with young Domonic Brown, who will need to shoulder even more of the offensive load than he might have otherwise been expected to. It also means that the margin for error is that much less, meaning that the Phillies’ bullpen can’t give away games like it did against the Nationals on Saturday.
Like anything else that has happened to the Phillies this year, this, in and of itself, is not insurmountable. Chase Utley’s injury was far more devastating, frankly, and they’ve more or less survived that. But at some point these things start to add up, the bench begins to get taxed and things go sideways.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.