For the fifth time this season, the Phillies had to put a starting pitcher on the disabled list. Jerad Eickhoff hasn’t looked comfortable on the mound, and was seen grabbing the back of his right shoulder during a start against Boston. Eickhoff dismissed that as a cramp, but now he’s on the DL with an upper back strain. Eickhoff was scheduled to start Friday night in Arizona and the Phillies haven’t yet named a replacement.
To take Eickhoff’s place on the roster, the Phillies recalled first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi from Lehigh Valley. Stassi opened the season with the Phillies, but was optioned to Double-A Reading on June 5th to get regular playing time. Stassi was moved to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 8th. In a combined 11 games in the minors, Stassi hit .325 (13-for-40) with one home run and three RBI.
There is no estimate on how long Eickhoff will be on the DL, but the Phillies will need at least two starts from someone to fill his scheduled starts.
As for rotation replacements, Mark Leiter is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley Friday. Leiter was with the Phillies, working out of their bullpen earlier in the season and had a 4.74 ERA in 12 relief appearances in his first stint in the majors. The Phillies elected to put Leiter in the rotation with Lehigh Valley and in three starts, he’s pitched well with a 1.69 ERA. In his last start, Leiter threw 74 pitches and IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan figured he would be able to throw approximately 90 pitches in his next start.
Lehigh Valley’s top pitcher has been Tom Eshelman, who made his first start for Lehigh Valley on May 8th after being promoted from Reading. With Triple-A starts, Eshelman has a 5-1 record and a 1.68 ERA with two complete games, one of which was a nine inning shutout. The other start was in a double-header and was a seven inning shutout. Last season, Eshelman made 24 starts – 11 with Clearwater and 13 with Lehigh Valley – and pitched to a combined 5.15 ERA. In his combined 13 starts this season, Eshelman has a 2.15 ERA and an 8-1 record.
Mark Appel threw 8 1/3 shutout innings against Pawtucket in his last start on Monday night, but would be pitching on three days rest if he were to pitch Friday for the Phillies. The outing was the longest of Appel’s career.