The case for Stutes, Worley and Zagurski

Michael Stutes is a candidate to be called up if J.C. Romero goes on the disabled list. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

UPDATE: The Phillies have placed reliever J.C. Romero on the 15-day disabled list and recalled lefty Mike Zagurski from Lehigh Valley.


Assuming J.C. Romero hits the disabled list with a strained calf today, the Phillies appear to have three choices to fill the void in the bullpen.

The would-be candidates you can probably rule out:

Righthander Scott Mathieson, who threw 61 pitches in three innings of work yesterday.

Righthander Jason Grilli, who appeared in both games of a doubleheader yesterday.

Lefthander Juan Perez, who threw 36 pitches on Sunday and 16 pitches on Monday.

Righthander Andrew Carpenter, whose addition would be repetitive given the presence of Kyle Kendrick.

Righthander Michael Schwimer, who wouldn't be the first choice if the Phillies decide to go with a young guy.

The most obvious short-term answer would be lefty Mike Zagurski, assuming he is healthy (he hasn't pitched in a game since April 15). The 28-year-old appeared in eight games last season, and while his overall numbers weren't impressive -- eight runs, eight hits, five walks and 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work -- he would give the Phillies a second lefty to replace Romero. Lefties were 4-for-13 with six strikeouts, one walk, one home run and one double against Zagurski last season.

Perez could be a candidate, but he has thrown a lot of pitches over the last couple of days.

The most obvious long-term answer would be righthander Mike Stutes, who we wrote plenty about during his excellent performance with the big league club this spring. Stutes has continued to pitch well at Lehigh Valley, allowing two earned runs on six hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Right-handed batters are just 3-for-16 with nine strikeouts and two walks against him this season, and the Brewers and Padres are much heavier on right-handed hitters than lefties (Prince Fielder and Nyjer Morgan are the Brewers only two lefties of note, while the Padres, who the Phillies face starting Thursday, boast Brad Hawpe and Will Venable).

The biggest question about Stutes right now might be whether he is available to pitch tonight. He threw 43 pitches in an outing on Sunday. Before that, his highest pitch total of the season was 30, which was followed by four days off.

Which brings us to an under-the-radar possibility: Righthander Vance Worley, who is scheduled to start tonight against Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Worley made three scoreless relief appearances last season, striking out four and walking one with one hit in three innings of work. Righties are 5-for-23 with 10 strikeouts and two walks against him in two starts at Triple-A (overall numbers: 2.25 ERA, 14 strikeouts, three walks, two home runs, 12 innings, .186 BAA). He is on the 40-man roster, which might not be a huge factor, since the Phillies have an open space.

Worley would give the Phillies some length in the bullpen, although with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee scheduled to start the next two nights, that might not be a huge concern.

A lot could depend on how the Phillies plan on handling the back end of their bullpen tonight and tomorrow. Last night, they were clearly trying to stay away from Jose Contreras, but had to call on him once the game went extra innings. Contreras has now appeared in three games in four days, throwing a total of 40 pitches. He also threw in the bullpen five days ago while Cliff Lee was finishing off his complete game victory over the Nationals.

Ryan Madson has also pitched on three of the last four days (43 pitches total) along with some throwing in the bullpen at the end of the Cliff Lee game.

Assuming Stutes, Worley and Zagurski are all available to pitch tonight, I'd put Stutes as the slight favorite, followed by Worley, followed by Zagurski. The Phillies could also decide to call one guy up today and take a different one on the road.

We'll see how it shakes out.

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