Tyler Cloyd strode into the Phillies clubhouse with a smile as wide as a locker stall. The 25-year-old righthander had been standing on the field inside of an empty Citizens Bank Park, snapping photographs with his wife. Back home in Nebraska, the rest of his family gathered at a sports bar to watch his major league debut. He had not learned of his promotion to the Phillies until about 10:15 in the morning, and by that point a flight to Philadelphia was impossible. On the drive to Philadelphia from Lehigh Valley, he called his father.
"That was the first time I ever heard by dad cry on the phone," Cloyd said later.
Covering big league debuts is something that will never get old. There was something extra sweet about this one. Cloyd has never been considered a top prospect. Despite a stellar season that saw him earn the International League Pitcher of the Year Award, there was some doubt about whether the Phillies would call him up. He is not particularly imposing in size, and his fastball sits in the 86-to-88 mile-per-hour range. But he has command, and he has moxie, and plenty of pitchers have made a decent living with a combination of the two. It wasn't until Cole Hamels came down with a stomach bug that the Phillies made the call. Their decision to shut down Vance Worley for the season means Cloyd is here for the forseeable future. Charlie Manuel isn't a guy who likes to talk too far into the future, but after Cloyd held the Mets to three runs with five strikeouts in six innings, the manager finally relented and acknowledged, "Yeah, I'd say he is going to get another start."
There will be more Cloyds on hand for the next one, when Tyler will begin his quest to keep himself on the radar for 2013. Kyle Kendrick seems likely to enter next season as the No. 5 starter, with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Worley in front of him. But Cloyd should get ample opportunity to show whether his stuff can play against major league hitters. Because of his lack of velocity, he relies on movement, location, and mixing pitches. Asked whether he thinks an 86-to-88 mile per hour fastball can hold up in the majors, Manuel gave a verbal shrug.
"I've seen it," he said.
The only certainty is that Cloyd will get another shot. Judging by his smile, that is all he wants.