It was announced on Saturday that the Phillies were demoting David Buchanan to AAA and calling up LHP Elvis Araujo. My initial reaction was of outrage that Severino Gonzalez would remain up on the major league roster despite showing in his last start that he was not major league ready. However, the Phillies might actually be doing what Amaro said they would do at the beginning of the year, which was maximizing the 40 man roster and minor league options.
First just to touch on minor league options. Once an option is used it is good for the full year, so all you are doing is giving the player you call up major league service time. This means for a player like Araujo, all it costs the Phillies is service time while he is up.
So here is what has happened and what will happen.
- 4/22 – Sean O’Sullivan place on 15 day DL (eligible for return 5/6)
- 4/28 – Hector Neris optioned to minors (eligible to return on 5/7)
- 5/2 – David Buchanan optioned to minors (eligible to return on 5/12)
- 5/2 – Elvis Araujo called up to majors
- 5/3 – Severino Gonzalez scheduled to start vs Marlins
- 5/5 – Chad Billingsley activated from 15 Day DL
First lets start with Araujo, since Neris was ineligible to return it leaves Araujo and Nefi Ogando as the only healthy relievers on the 40 man roster. Since Jake Diekman is the only LHP in the bullpen, Araujo makes the most sense. So this means that on 5/5 the Phillies will need to option a player to the minors, but before that they can use 4 SPs and 8 RPs. They can do this though on 5/5 and going forward.
- 5/5 – Severino Gonzalez optioned to minors (eligible to return 5/15)
- 5/7 – Sean O’Sullivan makes rehab start
- 5/7 – Hamels and rotation moved up a day due to off day on May 6
- 5/12 – Elvis Araujo optioned to minors (eligible to return 5/22)
- 5/12 – Sean O’Sullivan activated from 15 day DL
The Phillies couldn’t have optioned Severino immediately because they need a starter on Sunday. But by staggering the options and DL activations they can carry Elvis Araujo as an 8th bullpen are from 5/2 to 5/12 while carrying only 4 starters.
At the end of all of this they have a major league rotation of Hamels/Harang/Billingsley/Williams/O’Sullivan, which is far from good, but is not unservicable for now. That then means in AAA they have Severino/Buchanan/Morgan/Rodriguez/(1 of Aumont/Clemens). This allows them to give developmental time to Severino and Buchanan while still getting enough major league innings to not overstress the bullpen.
This continues to be part of a concerted strategy by the Phillies to keep the development of their young pitchers as the top priority while also fielding a major league roster. At any point if any of these pitchers proves they are ready for the majors, the actual major league rotation can be torn apart to make room.
EDIT: The Phillies announced O’Sullivan will make a rehab appearance on May 7, but due to off day on May 6, logic still works and above has bee modified to reflect change.