Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

The Phillies' starting pitching rotation, for the time being, features four arms that were acquired in trades that have coincided with the team's rebuild, which started after the 2014 season.

Nick Pivetta will become the latest to join the group when he is officially activated. He was in the Phillies' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but those plans changed when Tuesday night's game against the Miami Marlins was postponed because of rain.

No makeup date was announced.

The rainout means Pivetta's big-league debut will be pushed back. Vince Velasquez, Tuesday's scheduled starter, will pitch Wednesday night against the Marlins and Jeremy Hellickson will start the series finale Thursday. Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin are likely to stay on turn and pitch Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles. That means Pivetta's debut will likely happen Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Not a bad venue for an unveiling. He does not have to be activated until that day. In the interim, the Phils are carrying an extra reliever in Mark Leiter Jr.

Even with the weather-related change in plans, Pivetta was thrilled to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"I've achieved my goal of getting here eventually," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I'm happy to be here. I want to get my feet on solid ground right now and just take it one step at a time."

Pivetta is a Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia, about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. As a kid, he watched Toronto Blue Jays' games on television and idolized Roy Halladay.

Victoria must now be Phillies territory. Michael Saunders, the team's rightfielder, also hails from the town.

"You see it more and more, more Canadians getting into the game of baseball, so it's always nice to see another one in the locker room," said Saunders, 30. "Clearly he's pitched well enough to earn his way up here and I'm looking forward to seeing him play."

Pivetta is 6-5, 225 pounds. He was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. The Phillies acquired him for Jonathan Papelbon and cash in July 2015.

Pivetta will take Aaron Nola's spot in the rotation. Nola is on the disabled list with tightness in his lower back. He could be back as soon as early next week.

Nola said he probably could have pushed himself and stayed in the rotation, but the team chose to be cautious.

"I don't think it's any big thing," Nola said.

With Pivetta on board, the Phillies now have four pitchers in their rotation that came over in "rebuild" trades.

Eflin arrived in the December 2014 deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.

Eickhoff came in the July 2015 deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers.

Velasquez came in the December 2015 trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

Pivetta did not immediately pitch well upon joining the Phillies organization. He had a 7.31 ERA in seven starts for Double A Reading in the summer of 2015. In 28 1/3 innings, he struck out 25 and walked 19.

Pivetta was a different pitcher last season. He registered a 3.27 ERA in 148 2/3 innings between Double A and Triple A, struck out 138 and walked 51. That performance earned him a spot on the team's 40-man roster.

"In 2016, he showed us the potential to be a really good major-league pitcher," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "He was a little excitable after the trade in 2015, but he came back calm and confident last year. His stuff is legit — 93 to 96 (mph) with life on the fastball, good breaking ball and good feel for the changeup."

His control continued to improve this season as he got off to a 3-0 start at Triple A. He pitched 19 innings, gave up just two earned runs, walked just two and struck out 24.

"Just getting ahead with my fastball," said Pivetta, explaining the early-season success that put him in line for the promotion. "First-pitch strikes are big. Even if I get into that 0-1 count or that 1-1 count, getting back to that 1-2 count is big. So being able to even up those counts have been really big for me, as well, and being able to finish off with my off-speed later in the counts, too."

Pivetta pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. He made one start and took a no-decision in the team's 4-1 loss to Columbia. Pivetta worked four innings and allowed one run.

"That helped me," Pivetta said. "It was awesome. It was like having playoff baseball in March."

It's not clear how long Pivetta will stay in the big-league rotation. But he has more than put himself on the map, and if he continues to pitch well, he'll make more starts with the big club this season.

"I did not expect to be here this early in the season," he said. "I am happy to be here right now. I'll see how long I stay and just have fun while I am here."

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

BOX SCORE

Brock Stassi's toe hurt.
 
Maikel Franco's ribs and head hurt.
 
Pain never felt so good.
 
The Phillies pulled off their most dramatic win of the young season when they rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, at chilly Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).
 
Franco completed a three-RBI night when he smacked a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single to right to give the Phillies the walk-off win. It was the Phillies' third straight win and fifth in the last seven games as they improved to 8-9 with a chance to sweep a series and even their record at .500 on Sunday afternoon.
 
Franco will be in the lineup.
 
But he might need a couple of Advil to get going.
 
After his game-winning hit, Franco was hilariously chased into right field by his euphoric teammates. The Phillies third baseman absorbed a beat down with Andres Blanco delivering a blow to the top of Franco's head.
 
"You see that -- boom!" Blanco said in the happy clubhouse after that game.  
 
Franco did more than see it.

He felt it.
 
"Whitey got me," he said, laughing and pointing to his head and ribs. "My body is screaming right now."
 
Across the clubhouse, Stassi was feeling Franco's pain. His foot got stepped on during the happy scrum.
 
"My toe is killing me," he said with a laugh.
 
Stassi, too, might need an Advil before Sunday's game. He has a good chance to be in the lineup at first base because Tommy Joseph seems like a candidate for a day off after a tough night. Joseph made a costly throwing error in the top of the 10th inning that helped the Braves take a 3-2 lead.
 
Stassi helped rescue the Phillies from that deficit. His 10th inning single was the first of three one-out hits that the Phils collected against Braves' closer Jim Johnson. With the bases loaded, Johnson made Odubel Herrera look bad with a swinging strikeout for the second out. That brought up Franco. New hitting coach Matt Stairs is constantly encouraging Franco to use the whole field and that's just what the cleanup man did in lacing a liner to the warning track in right.

"To right field! How 'bout that," manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
It was Franco's second single of the night. He would have been awarded a game-winning double if he had reached second base. But, alas, he was chased into right field.
 
In the clubhouse after the game, Franco was told by a club official that he could have had a double had he touched second.
 
Franco's eyes widened in disbelief.
 
"Ah, Mikey!" he said, scolding himself.
 
Then he laughed.
 
Across the clubhouse, Joseph could laugh about the miscue that saw him throw to an empty third base after a sacrifice bunt in the 10th. With everything moving fast, he mistook shortstop Freddy Galvis for a baserunner as Galvis streaked to cover third.
 
Joseph's error put a man on third and the Braves scored the go-ahead run on an infield hit.
 
The ironic part about Joseph's error was the Phillies played excellent defense -- Herrera and Aaron Altherr made great catches in the outfield and Galvis was Galvis at short -- until the 10th.
 
They pitched well, too, from starter Jerad Eickhoff's five innings of one-run ball to the stingy relief work of Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia and Pat Neshek. They teamed on three shutout innings.
 
With his top late-game tandem of Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris in need of a night off, Mackanin asked Edubray Ramos to close it out. Ramos struck out the first two batters in the ninth and was one out away from his first big-league save when Brandon Phillips unloaded on a hanging slider to tie the game at 2-2.
 
Ramos rebounded and got the final out of the inning. As he walked off the field, he covered his mouth with his glove and shouted. Best guess: He said a naughty word. But ultimately his teammates got him off the hook. Parts of it were pretty. Parts of it were ugly. But when the night was over, the Phillies had a win.
 
"It was really a wacky game," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We played well overall, then there was a flurry of activity at the end."
 
Mackanin reached for a bottle of water.
 
"I'm going to drink more of this Smart Water," he said. "It's a happy day."

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10 innings)

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10 innings)

BOX SCORE

The Phillies won a wild one Saturday night.
 
Maikel Franco's two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th gave them a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.
 
It was the Phils' third straight win and fifth in the last seven games.
 
The Braves scored one in the ninth and one in the 10th to take a lead.
 
Edubray Ramos, attempting to convert the first save of his big-league career, gave up a game-tying solo homer to Brandon Phillips with two outs in the top of the ninth. An inning later, the Phillies fell apart defensively and the Braves took a 3-2 lead.
 
The Phils loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th on hits by Brock Stassi, Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr. Franco ended up with a liner to right against Jim Johnson.
 
First baseman Tommy Joseph made a costly error that set up the Braves' go-ahead run in the 10th. The unearned run scored on a two-out infield hit by Adonis Garcia. Third baseman Franco had a chance to make an inning-ending play, but could not get the ball out of his glove cleanly. He atoned in the bottom of the inning.
 
The Phils are 8-9.
 
Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff struggled with his command and therefore ran his pitch count to 98 in five innings. But he made a lot of big pitches in holding the Braves to just two hits and a run over five. Eickhoff walked two and struck out seven.
 
Eickhoff often receives little run support. In this game, he got none. The Phillies did not score with him in the game.
 
Eickhoff has made 45 career starts. His average run support is just 3.73.
 
But his ERA in those 45 starts is 3.36, the lowest of any Phillies' starting pitcher in the first 45 starts of his career since Bruce Ruffin (3.27) from 1986-87. That stat courtesy of Elias Sports.
 
Braves starter Jaime Garcia pitched shutout ball for five innings then gave up two runs in the sixth and was on his way to a loss until his mates scored single runs in the ninth and 10th. He scattered five hits over six innings.
 
Bullpen report
Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia and Pat Neshek combined on three scoreless innings and Ramos was one out away from ending the game when he gave up the solo homer to Phillips in the ninth.
 
Jeanmar Gomez got the win.
 
Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris were unavailable after pitching the previous two games.
 
Johnson allowed four hits in the 10th and took the loss.
 
At the plate
The Phils scored two in the sixth. Hernandez and Altherr opened with hits against Garcia. Odubel Herrera tied the game with a hard-hit single up the middle and Franco delivered the go-ahead run with a hard-hit ground ball in the hole between short and third.
 
The Phils left two men in scoring position in the seventh.
 
They had a man thrown out at the plate trying to score on a fly ball to end the eighth.
 
A leadoff walk by Eickhoff, a stolen base and a two-out double by Phillips in the fourth accounted for Atlanta's first run. Phillips tied the game with his second homer of the season.
 
In the field
Herrera made a great running catch on a scorched liner to right-center by Dansby Swanson for the second out in the seventh.
 
Freddy Galvis made a couple of terrific plays at shortstop.
 
Altherr made a nice diving catch to end the seventh.
 
Joseph threw to an empty base in the 10th.
 
On the bases
The Phils did not run the bases well.
 
Franco took them out of an inning with a base-running blunder after the team had scored two runs in the sixth.
 
Galvis was caught stealing third base with one out and a one-run lead in the seventh.
 
A trade
The Phillies acquired utility man Ty Kelly from Toronto for cash. General manager Matt Klentak spoke about the deal and other matters.
 
Up next
The series concludes Sunday afternoon with Zach Eflin (0-0, 3.60) opposing Braves' right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (0-2, 4.26)