Game #101 at Phillies; Van Benschoten Returns

Citizens Bank Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Moyer | Box

Never have 6 hits and 4 walks over 2.1 innings looked so good.
John Van Benschoten allowed the first three Phillies he faced to reach base, and I’m sure everyone wearing black and gold was wondering if he’d stick around long enough to record an out.
Then, after a visit from Jim Colborn, Ryan Howard struck out. So did Pat Burrell. All of a sudden, Van Benschoten was one batter away from escaping from a bases-loaded jam unscathed.
Greg Dobbs wasn’t having any of that, though, and a seeing-eye single plated Philadelphia’s first two runs.
After a relatively quiet second inning, JVB took to the hill in the third:

Phillies third: Howard walked on a full count. Burrell homered to left on the first pitch, Howard scored. Dobbs walked on a full count. Ruiz doubled to center, Dobbs scored. Nunez grounded out, second baseman Sanchez to first baseman Phelps, Ruiz to third. Moyer singled to left, Ruiz scored. Armas pitching. …

And the fat lady had sung.
Ronny Paulino led the Pirate offense, going 3 for 3 in the rain-shortened contest. Jason Bay, Jose Castillo and Jack Wilson had a hit apiece off Jamie Moyer, who threw seven innings in a complete-game victory.
The Phillies played without two All-Stars, Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand, yet they still pounded the Pirates. It was a brutal loss, every bit as lopsided as the 8-1 final looks.
It remains to be seen what management has in store for Van Benschoten. I wrote in the pre-game notes that only a true blowup would have JVB on a Greyhound back to Indy.  I don’t have a clue where this one’s headed.
He could—should?—return to Triple-A to work on his command; he could pitch out of the bullpen while Colborn tools with his mechanics; he could make his next scheduled start; he could be bypassed again in the rotation as the Pirates are off on Monday.
“We have to huddle up, talk some things over and take it from there,” said manager Jim Tracy.
Recaps
Pirates.com
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SI.com
Pre-game Thoughts
You’ve got to figure this is John Van Benschoten’s last chance. He’s been horrid (0-4, 8.17 ERA) in six major-league starts this season, and he hasn’t shown signs of righting the ship.
That is, not in our view. But behind the scenes may be a different story?
From the MLB.com scouting report:

Van Benschoten’s turn in the rotation was skipped after he had his worst outing of the season last Monday. He gave up nine earned runs on six hits with two walks and two hit batsmen in just two innings of work. Van Benschoten has benefited from extra side sessions from pitching coach Jim Colborn and said he is making good strides in improving his mechanics and command.

It shouldn’t have taken much to improve the command of a guy who’s walked 17 in 25 innings.
But let’s be honest: Van Benschoten doesn’t have to dominate tonight; he just needs to be passable. Tony Armas is the closest thing we have to rotation depth—so as long as JVB throws five or six decent innings, he should survive to see another start. Only a true blowup would have him on a Greyhound back to Indy.
Littlefield Speaks…
The mothership featured an online Q&A today with our fearless leader, David Littlefield, and there were a few questions about our arms.
Excerpts:

I heard that Bryan Bullington had the most wins in the International League. Is he ready for a promotion?
Bullington has had a very good year coming back from shoulder surgery. We are encouraged by his progress, and after a few bumps in the road, he seems to be pitching much better of late. …
Do you think John Van Benschoten, a relief pitcher in college, would be better suited out of the bullpen because it would mean less innings per year?
Van Benschoten has struggled at times in the big leagues this year, but hopefully he will get back on track with the benefit of a few side sessions with our pitching coaches. With that being said, I think Van Benschoten is a starter. He’s got the repertoire and command to handle that role. …
Since our pitching staff is so young, has there been any talk about acquiring a talented veteran to anchor our staff?
… It is a credit to our scouting staff that we have been able to draft and develop our current group of five starters — no other team has more than three. …

…but he’s wrong
For what it’s worth, I wrote (at Sandlot Swashbucklers) this morning that Bullington seems to have stalled a bit after his hot start. I said that I’d rather see him finish the year at Triple-A—barring a marked turnaround—and I’m sticking by that.
That post also features a quick glance at Yoslan Herrera, who’s progressing nicely at Altoona.

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One Response to “Game #101 at Phillies; Van Benschoten Returns”

  1. Travis Says:

    Every other sentence DL spouts off about his 5 homegrown starters. 2 are legit. 1 may be a legit 4th guy. The others are huge question marks. That being said, I don’t understand the relevance even if every single player on the team was drafted in house. The won loss record is what is relevant.


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