Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tyler Cloyd's unusual arc

There was no need to subject Tyler Cloyd to waivers as the Phillies did this week. Instead, Cloyd is an Indian. The transaction offered a commentary on how fast the organization's minor-league pitcher of 2012 fell at a time when the Phillies lack adequate pitching depth.

Tyler Cloyd's unusual arc

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There was no need to subject Tyler Cloyd to waivers as the Phillies did this week. The 26-year-old righthander bypassed 24 teams until he was claimed Wednesday by Cleveland. He had two options remaining. The Phillies could have retained him and demoted him to the minors after spring training.

Instead, Cloyd is an Indian. The transaction offered a commentary on how fast the organization's minor-league pitcher of 2012 fell at a time when the Phillies lack adequate pitching depth.

Cloyd was not effective in the majors. He made a total of 19 appearances (17 starts) with a 5.98 ERA. He will be best remembered, perhaps, for five scoreless innings in the epic 18-inning August marathon against Arizona. 

He was a pitcher who could not crack 90 m.p.h. on the radar gun. He relied on command of his sinker and cutter, an art he perfected in 2012 at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Cloyd was never a prospect until then. He was assigned to double-A Reading's rotation, ascended to the opening-day nod at triple A when Dave Bush was suspended, and was named the International League's best pitcher four months later.

The Phillies were hesitant to promote him while fans clamored for his addition. His debut came when Cole Hamels fell ill. Cloyd stuck. He displayed a penchant for allowing home runs but struck out 30 and walked seven in 33 innings. He offered hope as a swing man.

Last winter, Cloyd was a part of the package (along with Sebastian Valle) the Phillies negotiated in exchange for Houston reliever Wilton Lopez. Phillies doctors examined Lopez before the trade was official and deemed him a medical risk.

Cloyd remained. Lopez was dealt to Colorado and appeared in 75 games as the Rockies setup man. He had a 4.06 ERA. The Phillies, instead, signed Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract as their eighth-inning guy. He pitched 25 innings before succumbing to shoulder surgery that puts 2014 in doubt, too.

The front office was never enamored of Cloyd. It was not difficult to see why when, in September, he posted a 15.60 ERA in 15 innings. It marked a sad postscript to an unlikely rise. 

Amazingly, no Paul Owens Award-winning pitcher since Cole Hamels in 2003 (other than Severino Gonzalez, this year's honoree) remains in the Phillies organization. The list:

2012: Tyler Cloyd
2011: Trevor May
2010: Scott Mathieson
2009: Kyle Drabek
2008: J.A. Happ
2007: Mike Zagurski
2006: Carlos Carrasco
2005: Robinson Tejeda
2004: Scott Mitchinson

The Phillies' 40-man roster is at 38 with six others on the 60-day disabled list. Cloyd and Raul Valdes were the first jettisoned this October in what will be a wide-ranging roster purge.


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