Jon Lieber has a knack for pitching his past employers well. Last night in KC, he held the team that originally drafted him to three hits in a 4-0 complete-game shutout. Meanwhile, the Phillies will look internally to fill injured starter Freddy Garcia's slot in the rotation.
The Royals are the Royals, but it shows that Lieber, 37, still has plenty of gas left in the tank, and based on past history, his best months are still ahead. He’s been a strong finisher his last two seasons with the club, and barring a dramatic reversal, he’ll finish with better production this season than both Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton, two pitchers who were supposed to push him out the door.
Based on no particular measure, Lieber's a top 25 National League starter. He gives up hard hits, often double-digit hits in one game. However, he’s rarely good for less than five innings and perfectly reliable at the back end of the rotation. Every third start or so, he’s dominant, as he was last night. Lieber fanned a season-high 11, his most since 2000.
He’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season, which would leave two holes in the starting rotation. Garcia won't be coming back. In addition, at 45, Jamie Moyer may decide to hang them up. Ironically, the pitcher they tried to dump since last season’s trade deadline might actually be pitching himself back into their plans.
Garcia goes on the DL: No surprise here. After a dismal performance Friday, Freddy Garcia was placed on the disabled list and will meet with team doctors tomorrow. His spot will be filled by Jose Mesa, who signed with the club Friday.
The Phillies still need to fill Garcia’s spot in the rotation, which falls Wednesday and will be announced Monday. One name the team may consider is 22-year-old right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who’s having a fine season for Double-A Reading. Kendrick, rated as the club’s 15th best prospect by Baseball America before the season, is 4-7 with a 3.21 ERA with a league-leading 81 1-3 innings. In his last start, he notched a complete-game victory. He's allowed only three home runs all season.
Kendrick, considered one of the most durable pitchers in their system, relies on a low-90s fastball with good movement and a plus slider he uses as his out pitch. His third pitch is a change-up, which scouts now view as a reliable tool.
Besides Kendrick, a darkhorse candidate could be 25-year-old right-hander Bubba Nelson, who's pitching in Triple-A Ottawa. Nelson was converted back into a starter after starting the year as a reliever in Reading and is posting some nice numbers. A second-round pick of the Braves in the 2000 draft, Nelson earned the win in yesterday’s game on an unearned run on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts in five innings.
Bisenius goes on the shelf: The Lynx have placed right-hander Joe Bisenius on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Bisenius, 24, is 1-2 with a 6.48 ERA in 19 games for the Lynx and is considered one of the Phillies top relief prospects. Bisenius broke spring training with the club as part of their 25-man roster, but the move was only temporary.
Game chat: A pair of left-handers meet in the series finale in Kansas City. Jamie Moyer (5-4, 4.08 ERA) and Jorge De La Rosa (4-6, 4.60 ERA) are scheduled to pitch. Game time is 2:10 p.m. ET. Chat about it here.