Phillies notes: Williams, Tigers trade talk, Franco

Phillies notes: Williams, Tigers trade talk, Franco
August 11, 2014, 5:00 pm
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Jerome Williams will be the ninth different pitcher to start a game for the Phillies this season. Meanwhile, that chatter about a possible trade involving Jonathan Papelbon and the Detroit Tigers has heated up. (USA Today Images)

Jerome Williams will become the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Phillies this season on Tuesday night. He will start against the Los Angeles Angels in the first game of a two-game interleague series in Anaheim.

The well-traveled Williams, a 32-year-old right-hander, was plucked off waivers from the Texas Rangers on Sunday. He has not pitched since Aug. 1 when he was tagged for 13 hits and 10 runs in four innings against Cleveland. That was just Williams’ second start of the season. He pitched six innings of one-run ball for the Rangers seven days earlier.

Williams began the season in Houston’s bullpen and had a 6.04 ERA in 26 games. His season ERA is 6.71.

An injury to Cliff Lee and the trade of Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers have left the Phillies scrambling for starting pitching. They obviously saw enough of Sean O’Sullivan, who was designated for assignment after making one start last week, and the upper levels of the minor-league system are embarrassingly thin in starting-pitching potential. (No. 1 pick Aaron Nola was not a consideration to come up.)

“We’re trying to upgrade our starting pitching,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We moved Roberto. Lee’s down. We’re seeing if [Williams] is better than what we have. We don’t have starting pitching depth. We’re looking for starting pitching that can help us.”

Veteran Jason Marquis might have been in position for a call-up, but he strained an oblique muscle last month. Marquis, who has rebounded from Tommy John surgery last summer, is close to rejoining the Triple A rotation.

Williams has spent nine seasons in the majors, including three with the Angels from 2011-2013. He appeared in 79 games and had a 4.46 ERA over that span.

Trade talk
The Detroit Tigers’ lead in the American League Central is shrinking and their bullpen is in tatters with back-enders Joe Nathan struggling and Joakim Soria on the disabled list.

Jonathan Papelbon might solve some problems for the Tigers.

Papelbon reportedly cleared waivers, so he could be dealt.

The Tigers scouted the Phillies heavily in July. It is believed they were actually more interested in Antonio Bastardo than Papelbon, who carries a big price tag -- the remainder of $13 million for this year, $13 million for next year and a vesting option for 2016.

Could the Tigers and Phillies still be trade partners?

“We had dialogue with them, particularly about the bullpen, but nothing recent,” Amaro said.

Bastardo was reportedly placed on waivers earlier this month. He is owed only about $600,000 for the remainder of the season. That makes it likely that he was blocked on waivers. If that’s the case, he can’t be traded.

Franco in September?
Amaro said it was “possible” that the Phillies would take a look at corner infield prospect Maikel Franco in September. Asked if Franco could come sooner, Amaro said, “Probably not.”

Franco, 21, had a rough start at Triple A, but has turned it on since July 1, hitting .338 with five homers, 28 RBIs and a .924 OPS over 33 games.

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