The Phillies will shift righty Nick Pivetta into the bullpen, manager Gabe Kapler tells reporters including Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). He’ll be available in a relief capacity beginning this evening.
This’ll be the second time that the 26-year-old has been bumped from his rotation spot. The first time, he was sent down to Triple-A in hopes he’d be able to work out the kinks. Pivetta has mostly struggled since returning to the majors and currently owns a 5.74 ERA over 69 innings, with 7.6 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 and 16 long balls marring his record.
The expectation is that lefty Drew Smyly will step right into the open rotation spot. His recently reported deal still is not official, but he’s now clearly destined to move onto the MLB roster if and when it hits the book.
Pivetta threw 2 1/3 hitless innings before his latest appearance was interrupted by rain, but he also allowed four walks to go with his four strikeouts. He’s now carrying an ugly 15:13 K/BB ratio in his past 24 frames over a five-start stretch. After turning in a 12.0% swinging-strike rate in 2018, he’s sitting at 9.3% this year.
It’ll be interesting to see how the hard-throwing Pivetta functions in a relief role. Already a hard thrower, with a fastball that has traditionally been clocked at around 95 mph, it’s certainly possible his stuff will play up in shorter bursts. Whether the Phils will consider utilizing him in a multi-inning capacity remains to be seen.
The Phillies are also curious to find out what they’ll get. Kapler says the team elected to bump Pivetta to a relief role rather than Vince Velasquez because the latter has already shown the organization what he looks like in each spot. (Via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, on Twitter.)
Even as they hope for a boost from Smyly, the Phillies are said to be looking hard at other possible rotation upgrades. Given the team’s situation in the standings, though, it’s arguable that it shouldn’t push too hard for near-term improvements. It seems likely that the club will target hurlers who are controllable and/or require mostly cash (rather than prospects) to acquire.