21 September 2011
As expected, the Diamondbacks called up top prospect Jarrod Parker on Monday, after Mobile completed their AA playoff season (with a Southern League championship). Parker's overall numbers in AA were good but not spectacular - 11-8, 3.68 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, 130.2 IP, 112K, 55BB (8.5K/9, 3.9BB/9). But his performance in the second half of the season was much better - he allowed 1 ER or less in 10 of his last 14 starts for Mobile. Over those final 14 games, his ERA was down to 2.57, and his walk rate dropped to a better 2.6BB/9.
Now that Parker has joined the Major League club, the next question is whether he will be added to the postseason playoff roster. This actually involves three questions:
- Is Parker even eligible for the postseason roster?
- Does he have enough time to impress management to earn a spot?
- Whose roster spot would he take if he does pitch well over the final week?
1. Is Parker even eligible for the postseason roster?
Technically, MLB rules say that players must be on the active Major League roster by August 31 to be eligible for the playoffs. However, there is a huge loophole in this rule that has been exploited by playoff teams for years, most notably by the Angels with Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. The loophole is that players on the 60-Day DL on August 31 are eligible for the postseason roster, and they can be replaced by another player, as long as that player was in the organization on August 31 and is on the 40-Man roster (Parker is now on the 40-Man). In this situation, the Diamondbacks have both Jason Marquis and Juan Gutierrez on the 60-Day DL, so they could easily add Parker to replace one of them. All that would be required is for the commissioner to approve the transaction.
2. Does he have enough time to impress management to earn a spot?
Even if Parker is technically eligible, he may not have an opportunity to earn a playoff roster position. Since AA Mobile's season just ended on Sunday the 18th, Parker did not join the club until Monday the 19th. Plus, he had started a playoff game for Mobile on Thursday the 15th (6 IP, 4H, 0 ER, 3BB, 6K), so his regular pitching day would not come up again until the 20th. Parker has always been a starter in the Minors, so he is not used to coming into a game from the bullpen. GM Kevin Towers had stated earlier in September that if Parker was called up, he would only see minimal action in relief, and would be up mainly to experience the postseason atmosphere. And if he did pitch, it would be a time when he had ample opportunity to prepare to enter the game.
So far, Parker hasn't made an appearance in the Majors. In Tuesday night's game, the team went through six pitchers, but Parker did not get the call. If Manager Kirk Gibson was not ready to use Parker in a game that the team trailed by two runs, it's hard to see him suddenly becoming a valuable playoff addition in just one week. Most likely, Gibson will not use Parker until the team has either clinched a playoff spot, or is in a huge blowout. Once the team clinches, however, Parker will probably get a chance to pitch. And then, if he is lights-out for a couple of outings, there is always a chance that the team would re-evaluate the playoff roster.
3. Whose roster spot would he take if he does pitch well over the final week?
While it does seem unlikely that Parker could make the roster, is there even room for him right now? As we discussed last week, almost 10 spots seem locked up right now:
SP (4): Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter
RP (6): J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Joe Paterson, Micah Owings, Bryan Shaw
The 11th pitcher spot is down to Zach Duke, Wade Miley, Alberto Castillo, and perhaps Parker. The bullpen only has one lefthander (Joe Paterson), and I think the team would like to have a second one. Right now, I think Zach Duke would get the nod (LHB are only hitting .229/.250/.329 against him), while both Miley (4.5BB/9) and Castillo (6.5BB/9) have walked too many batters this year to be trusted right now. But Miley could move up with a strong start on Wednesday. Duke has only walked 2.3BB/9, but he also is only striking out 3.9K/9, one of the worst rates in all of baseball. So that 11th spot is certainly available for the taking, if Parker can string together two or three dominant outings over the final week.
Jarrod Parker could be added to the postseason roster through the DL Loophole, if the Diamondbacks want to. And the 11th spot on the pitching staff is certainly shaky. But Parker has very little experience coming out of the bullpen, and hasn't even made his Major League debut yet. The team only has 7 games left in the regular season, and Parker's only chance is to be so dominating that the team has no choice. I hope it happens, but there just isn't much time left. If Mobile had not made the playoffs and Parker had joined the team two weeks ago, then his chances would have been a lot better.