The Phillies' bullpen auditions just got a lot more interesting. The team announced after tonight's win over the Reds that it had recalled right-hander Phillippe Aumont to replace lefty Jeremy Horst, who was placed on the three-day paternity leave list. Aumont, you probably remember, was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners after the 2009 season. It has been an up-and-down season for the big righty. In 41 appearances at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he recorded 15 saves, posting a 4.26 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 34 walks in 44 1/3 innings.
His last 10 games tell the story of his time in the system. His last time out, he allowed four runs on three hits and a walk without recording a strikeout in 2/3rds of an inning. In the three outings before that, he allowed one baserunner and struck out four. In the three outings before that, he allowed five hits and five walks with five strikeouts and three runs in four innings. And in the three outings before that he allowed one baserunner with three strikeouts in three scoreless innings.
Aumont has a huge arm. He also throws a curve ball and a splitter. Command and composure have been the two big issues with him. Assuming he is here for the rest of the season, it will give fans something interesting to watch as the Phillies try to get a read on their bullpen in advance of what is sure to be a busy offseason.
UPDATED, 11:16 p.m.
Somebody on Twitter asked why the Phillies picked Aumont over righthander Justin De Fratus, who was a September call-up last season and entered spring training as arguably the top relief prospect in the organization. Long story short, the Phillies seem determined to err on the side of caution with regard to De Fratus' elbow, which caused him to miss the first half of the season after he developed a case of inflammation in spring training.
De Fratus has pitched in 17 games since returning from the disabled list, striking out 19 while walking two with a 2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. But he has only pitched on back-to-back days once since returning. In fact, he has had at least two days of rest before 14 of his 17 outings. The minor leagues are a much more structured environment than the majors when it comes to divying up workload. I don't think the Phillies felt like throwing De Fratus into the fire yet.