Get to know David Buchanan, impress friends and family at holiday parties

Get to know David Buchanan, impress friends and family at holiday parties

As if the Philadelphia Phillies needed any more obstacles in their path, they’re without Cliff Lee for a couple weeks. Hopefully that’s all, but for now, all that matters is who’s replacing him.

Jonathan Pettibone is on the mend, too, so that fallback option is out. Ethan Martin? Moved to the bullpen, actually, but points for you just for asking because it means you were still watching last August. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez? Now there’s a knee-slapper.

So on Thursday the Phillies announced they were down to David Buchanan, a 25-year-old right-hander who will make his first Major League start on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Unless you keep regular tabs on the Phils’ farm system—and perhaps even if you do—there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Buchanan until now. That’s because he’s generally not hailed as one of the organization’s top prospects.

He’s not in Baseball America’s or Keith Law’s top 10 Phillies prospects. He’s not among the Phillies’ 20 prospects to watch according to Buchanan didn’t even crack the Inquirer’s top 25.

We’ll save you the trouble of Googling him on your smart phone during your family barbecue over the weekend (unless you need such distractions, then be sure to visit us later).

A seventh-round pick out of Georgia State in 2010, Buchanan has been steadily climbing the Phillies minor-league ranks, although not in terribly impressive fashion from what we can glean from the back of his baseball card. He has a 35-27 record with a 3.98 earned run average, 1.335 WHIP and 2.01 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 88 professional starts.

Judging from the stat sheet, 2014 has been a particularly strange season for Buchanan. He’s managed to compile a 5-1 record in nine starts at Lehigh Valley this year with a modest 3.98 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP that would qualify as one of the worst in the Majors, as would his 1.82 K/BB rate. He’s walked 3.8 batters per nine innings.

Not surprisingly with that line, he’s not going very deep into games. Buchanan hasn’t lasted past 6.0 innings yet this season.

Jim Salisbury for wrote about Buchanan competing for a job in the rotation this spring, noting he has a nice array of pitches with a sinker/cutter/changeup combo.  Phuture Phillies mentions his fastball hits as high as 94 miles per hour. And he’s good at keeping the ball down, which has resulted in relatively few home runs as evidenced by a relatively low 0.7 home runs per nine over his career.

If he can keep the ball down, he'll give 'em a chance. Then again, he'll likely be turning the game over to the bullpen at some point, so maybe not.

Buchanan will battle, and if the Phillies are lucky, they’ll get a couple decent starts out of him before Lee returns on schedule. But best case scenario, we’re talking about an end-of-the-rotation starter, one who unfortunately is tasked with filling the void left by a Cy Young Award winner. At this point in the season, that’s not what the Fightins needed.

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are coming off two straight losses and the slate doesn't get any easier with the 5-0 Vikings coming to town.

It also marks the return of Sam Bradford, who was traded just before Week 1, paving the way for rookie Carson Wentz to start.

The Eagles kick off against Minnesota at the Linc on Sunday at 1 p.m., so it's time for our (cough) experts' predictions for the Week 7 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (2-3)
I'll admit, this game just has a weird feel. It has the feeling like the Eagles might be able to catch the Vikings sleeping after their bye week and hand them their first loss of the season.

I was almost tempted to pick the Birds in this one.

But I'm not.

Ultimately, the Vikings are just the better team. I'm not sure how the Eagles are going to put up points against them. And I'm not convinced the Eagles' defense will be able to stop anyone after what we saw last weekend.

They keep it close, but the Birds fall to 3-3.

Vikings 20, Eagles 17

Derrick Gunn (2-3)
The good news is Minnesota's offense is ranked 30th in the league and the Vikings' run game is dead last averaging 70.6 yards per game. 

The bad news is the Vikings' defense is a monster, ranked 2nd overall and first in points allowed at 12.6.

There is not a weak link in the Vikings' D and they are fundamentally sound across the board. The Eagles' defense vows that what happened to them at Washington — allowing 230 rushing yards — won't happen again. 

Carson Wentz got roughed up by the Redskins' pass rush, and unless the Eagles' offensive line plugs the leaks, more of the same could happen this Sunday. The Birds have every reason to rebound at home, but I just don't like the overall matchup. 

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

Ray Didinger (2-3)
The Vikings aren't going undefeated. You don't go 16-0 in the NFL with a 30th ranked offense which is what the Vikings have. Yes, their defense is very good. Going back to last season they have held each of their last nine opponents to 17 points or less. They are deep, fast and well-coached by Mike Zimmer. But the offense led by Sam Bradford coughs and sputters a lot.
As a result, the Vikings will play a lot of close, low-scoring games and somewhere along the line they are going to lose. It could even happen this week when they play the Eagles. Special teams could be huge. The Eagles have a big edge with kicker Caleb Sturgis. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has already missed three field goals and two PATs. However, the Vikings return men -- Marcus Sherels on punts, Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs -- are very dangerous. I expect the Eagles to keep it close but in the end I have to go with the superior defense.
Vikings 21, Eagles 16

Andrew Kulp (2-3)
Which Eagles defense shows up on Sunday? If they can limit Minnesota's anemic ground attack, which ranks dead last in the NFL, this should be a close game. Sam Bradford is playing really well, but it's not like he's airing it out all over the place.

Then it becomes a question of how Halapoulivaati Vaitai responds to a rough debut. The Vikings pass-rush is fierce, so it doesn't get any easier this week. As long as the protection gives Carson Wentz a chance, that will at least give the rookie signal-caller a shot at making a few big plays.

For some reason, I like their chances at both. It's going to be another ugly one, but the Eagles do just enough to squeak by.

Eagles 20, Vikings 19

Corey Seidman (2-3)
I foresee a low-scoring game in which the Eagles are more competitive than some might think.

But in the end, the Vikings have the personnel and the defensive-minded head coach (Mike Zimmer) to get key stops down the stretch.

Vikings 20, Eagles 16

Andy Schwartz (1-4)
You’re still reading? 

Well good for you. Much appreciated. 

Because clearly I certainly don’t know what to expect from this team. 

But let’s forget all that for the moment and look at the Bradford Bowl. 

The Vikings’ offense is hardly scary (30th in the league in yards per game behind the Rams and Niners), but their defense is (second in yards per game behind Seattle).

The Eagles’ offense is hardly scary (22nd in yards per game), and their defense (sixth in yards per game) was pretty scary a few weeks ago.

So let’s look at the intangibles. Which team needs this game more? The Eagles. And they’re at home. 

But given the outcomes the last two weeks and that Minnesota is unbeaten and coming off a bye, it certainly makes sense to pick the Vikes, who are favored by 2.5.

Then again, the Eagles not too long ago were unbeaten and coming off a bye … and we all know what happened.

So I’ll say the Birds pull off another upset and remain unbeaten at the Linc. 

Just don’t bet on it.

Eagles 6, Vikings 5