Wednesday, August 13, 2003


I don't even want to talk about last night's game, but I will mention the opening lines from the AP article on

Brandon Duckworth pitched his best during a pennant race two years ago. The way he's going now, he might not stick around for this one.

Uh huh...about says it all. If you want a recap of last night's game, check out the article.

Otherwise, I am looking at other options...

Brandon DuckworthMajors475.049.756.434.39
Ryan MadsonAAA1173.919.027.612.36
Amaury TelemacoAAA1093.247.246.721.27
Josh HancockAAA894.228.446.622.40
Taylor BuchholzAA892.937.927.192.05
Seung LeeAA1154.768.226.653.00

Brandon Duckworth had looked decent-to-good in his last three starts. But the bottom fell out again last night, and I don't think the Phillies -- in the heart of the playoff race -- can put up with it much longer. So let's take a look at the other choices.

Ryan Madson -- Madson is the closest pitching prospect to the majors, and was coveted by other teams at the trading deadline. He has pretty good basic numbers, although he gives up almost a hit an inning. In contrast to Duckworth, however, he allows two fewer walks per nine, which can make a difference (keep in mind that four of Duck's six walks scored last night).

Baseball America lists Madson as the Phillies #6 prospect coming in to the season, citing his aggressiveness and ability to pitch inside as the key to his success. He keeps the ball low, getting a lot of ground balls. They deem his changeup to be the "organization's best and a major league out pitch". His fastball only reaches the low 90s, but he keeps the ball around the plate and doesn't get himself into trouble.

Doesn't get himself into trouble...sounds like the kind of guy the Phillies could use. Keep an eye open for him...

Amaury Telemaco -- Telemaco no longer counts as a hot prospect, if he ever was one, but he is more than handling the AAA competition. He is allowing less than a baserunner per inning, and is averaging almost seven strikeouts per nine. He probably isn't a long-term solution in the major league rotation, but the Phillies just want someone who can get them through the next two months.

The one thing that Telemaco has going for him over the other options is major league experience. He made his debut with the Cubs in 1996, and pitched in the majors most recently with the Phillies back in 2001. He got most of his innings in early in the year (ironically, before Duckworth got his callup), but has faced MLB competition. I'd give you his MLB stats, but they would ruin the very nice image painted by this year's AAA stats.

Josh Hancock -- Hancock doesn't have the best numbers on the AAA staff, but he is more than holding his own. He is actually allowing fewer baserunners per nine than Madson, albeit with less fanfare. With all of the young arms in the Phillies' system, Hancock projects to be no more than a 4- or 5-guy in the rotation, probably more a long- or middle-relief guy. But he can fill that #5 spot in the rotation right now, and probably put up equivalent numbers to Duckworth.

Taylor Buchholz -- I'm stretching it a little bit, dipping into the AA rotation, but I'm looking for any outlet here. And Buchholz isn't a bad choice. Baseball America's #4 prospect on the Phillies list projects to be a front-of-the-rotation starter and has three above-average pitches. From BA:

He throws two- and four-seam fastballs, generating plus life and sitting at 88-93 mph with a high of 96. Buchholz learned a new curveball grip at low Class A Lakewood in 2001, and now his breaking ball has more velocity than Floyd’s and equal bite. His conditioning, athleticism and sound delivery have made him durable.

His one weakness coming into the season was his tendency to overthrow, leaving the ball up for hitters. He has given up nine home runs on the year in 122 2/3 innings, so he will give up a long ball every now-and-then. The key is that he doesn't allow many baserunners in general, so when he does allow a HR, it's with minimal damage.

Seung Lee -- The great "unknown" of the Phillies' prospects, Lee did not make many preseason prospect top 10 lists. But he is putting up some of the better numbers among Phillies pitchers. He does not get as many strikeouts as his counterparts, and he will give up a lot of homeruns (19 on the season), but he finds a way to get the job done. 16 decisions in 23 starts shows that he goes deep into ballgames and fights long enough to pick up a decision, one way or the other. As Duckworth's 4 2/3 innings showed yet again last night, the Phillies could use an innings eater.


I am probably reaching on some of these guys, and I am probably hoping too much. But I think Duckworth has shown that he cannot seem to shake whatever it is that is bothering him, and he is not the Phillies best option down the stretch. Last night's game was a must win; instead, the Phillies have now dropped five of six, and have fallen behind the Marlins in the Wild Card race. Not exactly how you want to play in the stretch drive.

My prediction (for what it's worth): look for the Phillies to sooner or later (sooner, I hope) make a move, whether it be for Madson (higher ceiling) or Telemaco (MLB experience).