Explaining the Escalona move

UPDATED - 3:41 p.m. Walker and Cervenak were not options for the Phillies as they are injured.

I'm sure some of you are curious as to why the Phillies decided to call up lefthander Sergio Escalona today after optioning righthander Andrew Carpenter back to the minor leagues. The move leaves the club with 13 pitchers and four bench players, with Eric Bruntlett and Chris Coste as the only two right-handed bats off the bench.

The Phillies had other options with major league experience in the minors. Third baseman Mike Cervenak spent a brief stint with the team last season is currently batting .326 with three home runs and 23 RBI for Lehigh Valley but hurt his wrist last night. Second baseman Pablo Ozuna had an impressive spring training and is hitting .286 with a .320 on base percentage, while John Mayberry is hitting .270 with eight home runs and 25 RBI.

On the pitching side, the Phillies have three veterans with significant major league experience all pitching well for the IronPigs. Mike Koplove has allowed just one earned runs and 12 hits while striking out 21 and walking nine in 17 1/3 innings. Gary Majewski has allowed eight earned runs in 19 1/3 innings (3.72 ERA). Tyler Walker has pitched 11 scoreless innings since signing a minor league contract last month but is on the disabled list and is currently rehabbing.

So what were the Phillies thinking?

Their philosophy, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee, is two-fold. Heading into their fourth game in three days, the Phils felt they needed an extra arm to shore up a bullpen that has been seen significant use over the past week. While yesterday's rain-shortened win was a blessing for the unit, the club still felt they needed help. After all, what if Chan Ho Park leaves today's game early? In short, Dubee said, the short-term need for an extra arm outweighs the short-term need for an extra bat.

So why Escalona?

Dubee said Escalona offers the team "flexibility," since he has minor league options. If the Phillies called up any of the veterans, the would be unable to option them back to the minors without designating them for assignment, which would come with the risk of the player leaving for greener pastures. If the Phillies were looking at keeping 13 pitchers for the long-term, they likely would have made a different move. Right now, though, indications are that Escalona will stay with the team through the Cincinatti series, which will give the Phillies time to figure out their long-term options when it comes to their bench.