May 28, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
There are really only two ways to slice what little success the Phillies have enjoyed this season: they’re 11-5 against the Mets and Marlins, and are 14-7 in games started by Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, Jonathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd, which has screamed “unsustainable” from the start.
Further evidence: Cloyd’s six runs-in-2 1/3 innings battering in Boston last night. Pettibone continues to be solid, but Kendrick is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in his last two starts and has allowed 12 baserunners in each. Small sample size? Regression to the real mean? We’ll see.
Either way, enter Carlos Zambrano. Whether Z emerges to replace one of the rookies or further the Phillies continued back-end-of-the-rotation brilliance, Ruben Amaro’s latest flyer signing could well factor into the club’s short-term plans. That starts in earnest tonight, when Zambrano debuts with the Clearwater Threshers (high Class-A), his first minor league game with the Phillies since his May 15 signing.
Zambrano has yet to allow an earned run in six extended spring training innings over two starts, striking out nine and walking one, to which all regular spring training caveats should loudly apply.
Still, Zambrano’s minor league deal is all about “What If?” as in “What If He Can Strike Out 8.12 Per Nine Like He Did In 2010?” and “What If The Phillies Nos. 3 Thru 5 Starters Come Back Down To Earth?” and “What If John Lannan Can’t Get Healthy Enough Fast Enough To Bail Them Out?”
Now, answers to such questions are officially en route.
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