Jonathan Pettibone Makes MLB Debut Amid Mild Expectations

Jonathan Pettibone Makes MLB Debut Amid Mild Expectations

Guest post by Matt Hammond

After nabbing International League Pitcher of the Year honors with
a 12-1 mark and 2.35 ERA for the Iron Pigs in Triple-A last year, Tyler Cloyd
got lit up in the six starts following his September callup for the Phillies, for a 2-2
record and 4.91 ERA.

Lot of anticipation. World of let-down. In all, the Cloyd
Experience was kind of a drag.

Tonight, when Jonathan Pettibone makes his Big League debut in
place of the 15-day DL’d John Lannan against A.J. Burnett and the Pirates,
it probably won’t go that way.

Though he might not be Cliff Lee, and probably won't even be Adam
Morgan, Ethan Martin and, someday, Jesse Biddle, the numbers on the 22-year-old
right-handed sinker-and-slider-throwing Pettibone say he probably won’t be
Cloyd, either. 

He’ll probably sooner be, ironically, Aaron Cook.

Unlike Cloyd, who was tagged for eight home runs in six
major-league starts, Pettibone is all about inducing much more harmless ground
balls. His 50.8% ground ball rate in Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year was well
over average for the International League.

Pettibone’s outfield fly ball rate last year was 17.2%, where
Cloyd’s was 30.9%.

Hits are hits, and any kind can score runs, but ground balls
typically lead to fewer extra-base hits, which makes pulling the plug before
it’s too late easier on Charlie Manuel. 

Which is kind of why GM Ruben Amaro signed Cook (his 58.6 GB% in
2012 was second in baseball) this winter: to compete with Rodrigo Lopez to be
the Phillies sixth starter in case of, well, this. It’s also why fans bemoaned
Cook being cut this spring.

If he can’t dazzle, it’s pivotal that Pettibone at the very
least lasts today, seeing as a lengthy run from the bullpen early could impede
the Phillies chances the rest of the series.

Pettibone so far hasn’t been able to duplicate the impressive
4-1 mark and 2.25 ERA he posted after his first promotion to Triple-A last
year. He’s got a shaky 9.64 ERA through two starts with the Iron Pigs this year, after serving six
runs on eight hits in just 5 1/3 innings in his debut, and another four runs in
four innings in his follow up last Tuesday. 

His next scheduled turn was, conveniently, today. Morgan and
Martin both pitched on Saturday, and Biddle isn’t close to being Big League
ready.

Chris Johnson and Tyler Pastornicky each belted a home run for
the Braves in Pettibone’s only Grapefruit League game this spring, and
Pettibone served four runs in two frames on Apr. 28. Earlier, the Dominican
Republic WBC roster blasted him for another four runs in 2 2/3 once they were
through with Cole Hamels on Mar. 5.

Amaro yesterday said Pettibone's been clocking 91-94 m.p.h. this
year, whereas Cloyd topped out at 87 m.p.h. last year. Curiously, the GM said
Pettibone's stuff has been good, in the same breath as saying his command and
results have been poor. Hmm.

So no, there wasn’t the same hype around Pettibone as there was
Cloyd in 2012. 

Seeing how that went, and how this isn’t likely to,
maybe less will prove more.

*

Matt Hammond is the Phillies Insider and Morning Update Anchor for 97.3 ESPN in New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter here.

Union see 4-game winning streak end in shutout loss to Real Salt Lake

Union see 4-game winning streak end in shutout loss to Real Salt Lake

BOX SCORE

SANDY, Utah -- Joao Plata scored his first goal of the season and Real Salt Lake beat the Union, 1-0, on Saturday night to snap Philadelphia's club-record winning streak at four games.

Plata tapped in his goal in the 36th minute after quickly exchanging short passes twice with Jefferson Savarino. Tony Beltran got the play started by saving the ball just before it went over the goal line.

The Union (4-5-5) had a chance to tie it in stoppage time, but goalie Nick Rimando blocked Haris Medunjanin's belt-high free kick and Salt Lake (4-8-2) cleared it after a scramble in front of the net.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made seven saves.

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick on Saturday night made his fourth rehab appearance in Triple A during Lehigh Valley's 13-1 rout of the Louisville Bats in Allentown.

Kendrick went 1 for 5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play and left two runners in scoring position.

It was his second rehab game playing third base. He played third during his appearance in the IronPigs' 8-4 loss Thursday to the Indianapolis Indians. He was 0 for 1 in three plate appearances with a run scored and was hit by a pitch twice (see story).

The Phillies' plan for Kendrick was to have him play a minimum four games at Lehigh Valley. He played left field in two games and third base twice. Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that Kendrick would also get a game at first base but he hasn't gotten a game at first yet.

There is a chance Kendrick could be recalled Sunday before the Phillies’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds depending on how he feels.

Kendrick has been sidelined since April 15 with an oblique strain. In 10 games before the injury, Kendrick went 13 for 39 (.333) with five extra-base hits and four walks while exclusively playing left field.