Zach Miner allowed one run in four innings during the Phillies' 2-1 win over the Marlins. (USA Today Images)
MIAMI -- The Phillies’ need for starting pitching is on full display this week.
On Monday night, Roy Halladay lasted just 16 pitches before shutting it down for the season. Who knows if he’ll be back in 201 (see story)?
On Thursday night, Tyler Cloyd will pitch in Atlanta. He has allowed 25 hits and 17 runs in 13 innings over three starts this month. Ouch.
On Tuesday night, Zach Miner started for the Phillies. He did a nice job, allowing just one run in four innings in a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay). But Miner is viewed primarily as a long reliever. He got his second spot start in place of Kyle Kendrick, who has been shut down for the remainder of the season with shoulder soreness.
The Phillies have a good place to start their rotation with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in 2014.
Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez should also hold down one of the five spots. He’d better after signing a three-year, $12 million contract.
After that, it’s wide open.
Jonathan Pettibone figures to be in the mix. Kendrick will be if the Phillies retain him. Halladay could be, as well, if he’s re-signed.
But the Phillies will need more than that. They could look to make a free-agent signing or pick up another starter in a trade. Either way, new skipper Ryne Sandberg believes the club needs to improve its starting pitching. The numbers support his belief. Phillies starting pitchers rank 25th in the majors this season with a 4.36 ERA. Since the All-Star break, they rank last in the majors at 5.24.
“Starting pitching is very much a priority,” Sandberg said. “We also need depth in starting pitching. You have the fifth starter and the backup of a sixth and a seventh starter whether at Triple A or built up in the bullpen. That’s what’s necessary these days to get through the season.
“So we need to address the depth of starting pitching and the rotation.”
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. concurred with his skipper. He emphasized the need for depth.
Miner’s start Tuesday night illustrated the need for depth. He is the 10th different pitcher to start for the Phillies this season. On Saturday, the Phils could make it 11 different starters as they need to plug Halladay’s spot in the rotation one last time.
Sandberg was pleased with Miner’s effort.
“He did a nice job with his four innings,” Sandberg said. “It was a good lift for us on a bullpen day.”
“I wish I could be more pitch-efficient with these two outings and eat some more innings up,” said Miner, who went three innings in place of Kendrick in his first start. “I’m just trying to get guys out. Overall, I’ve been happy. We won today.”
The Phils snapped a five-game losing streak. They are 19-18 under Sandberg.
Offense has not been plentiful for the Phillies in the first two games of the series. They were shut out on four hits Monday night. They had just five hits Tuesday night and scored both of their runs in the first inning on a double by Jimmy Rollins and three straight walks by Miami starter Henderson Alvarez.
Rollins and leftfielder Domonic Brown combined on a nice relay to cut down a runner at third in the second inning, a big play in a tight game, and the relief corps of Mike Stutes, J.C. Ramirez, Jake Diekman and Jonathan Papelbon combined on five scoreless innings to close it out.
Stutes, in his first game back since going on the disabled list with shoulder soreness June 22, got the win.
“He was only 89 mph, but he painted the knee caps, had really good location,” Sandberg said.
Diekman has allowed just one run in his last 16 1/3 innings. He retired dangerous Giancarlo Stanton with a runner on base to end the eighth inning.
“Diekman has been tested against all parts of the order,” Sandberg said. “He’s done a good job throwing strike one and commanding the zone. We saw a 98 and 99 (mph) tonight. When he’s rested, that’s what shows up.”