The Opposite of Upside: Phillies Tap Tyler Cloyd as Roy Halladay's Friday Replacement

The Opposite of Upside: Phillies Tap Tyler Cloyd as Roy Halladay's Friday Replacement

Tyler Cloyd dealt eight innings of one-run ball and fanned 10 Indiana Indians his last time out at Lehigh Valley. Two days later, more highly-regarded prospect Adam Morgan was crushed for four runs in as many frames.

Maybe there’s more to the Phillies decision to tap Cloyd over Morgan as Roy Halladay’s replacement in the rotation for Friday in Arizona than "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"

Either way, the merits are flimsy.

Cloyd pitched as good as he (or anyone) could have at Triple-A last year, going 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA en route to International League MVP honors. Yet he was still battered like a fish stick with the varsity team, for a 4.91 ERA in six starts.

What happens this time, when he's got 5.40 ERA stuff in the minors?

At 25 years old and after five years in the system, Cloyd is what he is: a soft-thrower who to needs to induce ground balls – exactly what he couldn’t do in the majors last year. After forcing grounders on 44.4% of balls in play at Triple-A, Cloyd's GB% fell 12 percentage points.

And Cloyd fly balls leave the yard: he served more home runs (8) than he made starts, and had a 17.0 home run-to-fly ball rate. Yet this is the guy you want to debut at Chase Field, described by scouts as such:

"The thin desert air in Phoenix is also conducive to power hitters, as balls will travel a great distance in the air, even when the park's retractable roof is engaged to cut down on the desert heat."

Bronson Arroyo can be effective with Cloyd's 86.7 m.p.h. fastball, which if it qualified would’ve ranked fourth-slowest in the majors last year. Cloyd has yet to prove he can be. Why the need to find out?

However they've looked for 30 seconds on this road trip, the future of the Phillies, who own baseball's third-eldest roster and have $50 million coming off the books at year’s end ($20 million of it Halladay’s), is coming fast.

Unless they’re trying to shelter Morgan to shield his trade value for July (which would be absurd, because even if buying at the deadline is an option, a home-grown left-handed top prospect shouldn't be on the table for anyone other than Giancarlo Stanton, which, yeah, isn't happening) there’s no reason to not give him the ball now.

There’s minimal risk. The Phillies couldn’t possibly get worse production than they did from Halladay. And here, Morgan isn’t being anointed – he’s being used as spackle.

This is how you ease in Keith Law's pre-2013 No. 92 prospect: at first, in a pinch. You know, like the one the Phillies were the last time Halladay had to be plucked from the rotation, in spring training, when Morgan with little notice manned up against the Braves for 4 2/3 of one-run ball.

Today makes three weeks to the day since Charlie Manuel said it could be 6-8 weeks until the Phillies get John Lannan back. If Morgan wilts, they could still turn to Cloyd for the next two to four starts. But if Morgan pitches like Jonathan Pettibone, the Phillies could, believe it or not, have consistency from top to bottom in their rotation for the first time all year.

That’s the upside.

Someone explain to me the down?

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

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No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

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Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

ARLINGLTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish looked playoff-ready with a season-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Friday night and clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Rangers can be tied by only the Cleveland Indians and they own the tie-breaker by winning the teams' season series. The AL owns home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its win in the All-Star Game.

Darvish (7-5) allowed one run, three hits and one walk. His 28th career game of double-digit strikeouts is the second-most in a pitcher's first 100 major league starts, topped only by Dwight Gooden (31). Darvish will likely start Game 2 of the Division Series following Cole Hamels.

Shin-Soo Choo returned to Texas' lineup after missing 39 games with a fractured left forearm. Choo pulled a single to right in his first plate appearance since Aug. 15 and went 1 for 4.

Matt Andriese (8-8) gave up three runs and seven hits, including solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor (see full story). 

Cabrera hits 2 HRs, Tigers move up in playoff race, beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton also connected and the Detroit Tigers moved up in the playoff race, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Friday night.

The Tigers won their third straight and pulled within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays lost at Boston 5-3.

The regular season is scheduled to end Sunday, but the Tigers might need to play beyond that. They were rained out against Cleveland this week and would have to make up that game if it impacts their playoff chances.

Daniel Norris (4-2) gave up one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves, playing their final series at Turner Field before moving north to the suburbs next year, had won 10 of 11. Matt Wisler (7-13) was chased in the fifth when James McCann's RBI single made it 5-0 (see full story).

Trumbo hits 47th, Schoop 5 RBIs as Orioles top Yankees 8-1
NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th home run, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also went deep in a six-run fifth inning and the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 8-1 in steady rain Friday night to maintain their AL wild-card lead.

Baltimore began the night tied with Toronto for the AL's two wild cards at 87-72, with Detroit 1 1/2 games back and Seattle trailing the Tigers by a half-game.

Trumbo and Jones homered off Michael Pineda (6-12), who started with 3 2/3 hitless innings and suddenly became ineffective.

Schoop tied his career high with five RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the fourth and adding a three-run homer in the fifth against James Pazos -- Baltimore's big league-high 250th home run this season.

Yovani Gallardo (6-8) won for just the second time in nine starts since Aug. 5, allowing two hits, three walks and Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly in six innings (see full story). 

Ortiz delivers another HR, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3
BOSTON -- Opening his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, David Ortiz lined a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

The AL East champion Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL's final postseason berth (see full story).