Chris Branch of the News Journal reports that the Phillies have decided to move Ethan Martin to the bullpen and Tyler Cloyd to the rotation. Martin, acquired from the Dodgers last year in the Shane Victorino trade, had made seven starts since making his Major League debut against the Braves on August 2, posting a 6.90 ERA in 30 innings of work.
While Martin flashed an impressive mid-90’s fastball and a decent curve, he quickly lost steam. In his first trip through the opposing lineup, Martin held the opposition to a .618 OPS. The second time through, he allowed a .961 OPS, and his third time through, 1.488. His fastball averaged 95 MPH in the first inning but dropped below 93 MPH by the fifth inning, according to Brooks Baseball. Scouts profiled him as a future reliever and it seems like the Phillies are starting to see that, though pitching coach Rich Dubee says the team wants to “protect him”.
More from Dubee, via CSN Philly’s John Finger:
“I’m not afraid to put him in the eighth inning right now,” Dubee said. “Again, this is all trial and error. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. His stuff has played phenomenally well the first time through a lineup.
“And again, I don’t know if it’s because of fatigue, I don’t know if it’s because he burns up too much energy, but his stuff shortens up the second and third time through. I do think this guy is a gem. He will play some big role on a pitching staff. It will be a nice little change to take a different look at him.”
Cloyd was with Triple-A Lehigh Valley between June 17 and August 14, then made one start with the Phillies on the 20th, and a five-inning extra-inning relief appearance on the 24th against the Diamondbacks. He went back to Lehigh Valley on the 30th for a six-inning start and hasn’t pitched since. Martin was scheduled to start against the Padres on September 10, so that will likely be Cloyd’s next appearance.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.