The danger of writing up the AAA playoff preview yesterday was that the Phillies might do something drastic with the roster before the series, and the Phillies did something dramatic with the roster today.
In: RHP Mark Appel, SS Malquin Canelo, RHP Victor Arano, LHP Elniery Garcia, RHP Franklyn Kilome, RHP Jacob Waguespack, 3B Mitch Walding
Out: RHP Tom Eshelman, LHP Brandon Leibrandt, RHP Colton Murray, RHP Alexis Rivero, RHP Jose Taveras, INF Matt Williams (Released)
The Phillies chose not to push some of their young starters and so Eshelman, Leibrandt, and Taveras have all been shut down for the year. This means the IronPigs will be going with this rotation:
Game 1: Drew Anderson
Game 2: Elniery Garcia
Game 3: Jacob Waguespack
Game 4: Henderson Alvarez
Game 5: Franklyn Kilome
The rotation as a whole has 4 AAA starts this year, and only actually adds 17 games of AA experience from the 3 reinforcements. This will be the second year in a row that Elniery Garcia will make his debut at a new level in a playoff start. Unlike last year when Garcia was riding a peak, this version of Garcia is battling back from injury and time off. He has walked a ton of batters (11) in his last two starts and he has yet to have a dominant performance since returning to Reading. Jacob Waguespack has had more of a conventional year with a solid-ish walk rate and decent strikeout rate. The giant (6’6″) right hander is only at 105.1 innings this year thanks to starting the year in the bullpen. After a couple of shaky starts, Waguespack has had two great starts. He has a solid fastball and slider and should be able to battle out 6-7 innings for the IronPigs if he can keep the walks under control. Franklyn Kilome has plenty of prospect pedigree, but reportedly looked gassed in his last start and was struggling to locate all of his pitches. With a few extra days rest and a performance based arsenal (mostly just fastball-curveball) he is a wildcard to have a dominant outing.
In the bullpen, Victor Arano has not been great, but he is an improvement on Colton Murray and Alexis Rivero. Mark Appel in the bullpen is a complete unknown. Over his two year in the system, Appel has had inning flashes where he looks completely dominant, he has also shown that he has at least two plus pitches in his arsenal. The pieces are there for Mark Appel to be a good relief pitcher, but the pieces were also there for him to be a good starting pitcher, and he was decidedly been not that.
As for the two position players, they both fit needs. With shortstop vacated by Crawford’s promotion, Angelo Mora presumably shifts over to short from third. This left the IronPigs without a true backup shortstop, and that is where Malquin Canelo comes in. He probably won’t play much, but he could be a late inning defensive replacement if needed. Mora moving to short opens up third base as a gaping hole and that is where Walding comes in. Walding has struck out a ton this year, but he also has 25 home runs and a decent walk rate. He should give the IronPigs another chance for a home run or two to swing the series. It does make the middle of the IronPigs order very LH heavy with Cozens, Marrero, Pullin, and Stassi.
The loss of most of their rotation puts the IronPigs in a real bind. They received some talented reinforcements, but they are completely unproven in AAA. The lineup does not have the depth to sustain offense, but there is plenty of power for a timely home run to steal a game. If the IronPigs win this series they are going to have some unlikely heroes and some good managing.