Nick Pivetta struck out 14 batters in six innings at Triple A Lehigh Valley on Sunday.
The next day, Phillies officials kicked around the idea of using him in the big-league bullpen.
“We talked a lot about that yesterday,” manager Gabe Kapler said before the Phillies got back to work against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
Kapler stressed that nothing was imminent, that these types of discussions about personnel and roles happen all the time.
But if the circumstances were ever right ...
“It’s something we’ll consider,” he said.
Pivetta, 26, opened the season in the big-league rotation as the No. 2 starter. He was sent to the minors after giving up 31 hits and 17 earned runs in 18⅓ innings over his first four starts.
Pivetta’s demotion has coincided with the Phillies sending a couple of key relievers, David Robertson and Victor Arano, to the injured list. Another key reliever, Tommy Hunter, has been on the injured list all season.
The organizational preference is to still see Pivetta develop into a consistent big-league starter. He’s got the weapons to do that. But he might also be a pretty good bullpen weapon, especially if the Phils' current rotation of Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff holds up.
“I think a good one,” Kapler said when asked what kind of bullpen weapon Pivetta could be.
Kapler described any discussions about possibly using Pivetta out of the ‘pen somewhere down the road as a balancing act.
“We have to balance it with knowing that at any time he might be one of our five best starters,” Kapler said. “And we can envision him in a situation late in the season where he’s really important in our rotation, or sooner rather than later. So, I think there’s a balance.
“I guess my personal take on it, just being open with you, is I don’t think there’s a whole lot of risk to seeing him out of the bullpen. I don’t think it stunts his development as a starting pitcher to see him out of the bullpen. But I think there are a lot of stakeholders who need to be involved in this discussion.
Just one of Pivetta’s 63 games in the majors has come out of the bullpen.
It was impressive.
In July of last season, he got the win when he pitched the top of the 13th inning in a walk-off victory over Washington. Pivetta threw 19 pitches in the top of 13th and 11 of them registered at 97 mph or more on the radar gun. The right-hander held nothing back. He let it all go. Months later, that performance still resonates positively and tantalizingly in the minds of some Phillies higher-ups.
So could the Phillies use Nick Pivetta as a bullpen weapon sometime this season?
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