Vance Worley's promotion, injuries and player departures have forced a series of contingency plans in the Phillies' high minors, including Scott Mathieson's return to the starting rotation and the signing of veteran right-hander Tim Redding.
Mathieson, 27, last started in 2007 before his arm finally succumbed to a series of career-derailing surgeries, but even before that, a lack of secondary pitches convinced the front office that his future home would be in the bullpen. Not anymore. Despite having good success as a Triple-A closer, including 26 saves in 2010 and a couple of spot appearances with the Big Club the last two seasons, Mathieson failed to distinguish himself as a reliever who could fool a big-league hitter with a fastball alone. His return to the rotation, coming on the heels of Worley's promotion, Brian Gordon's opt out and Nate Bump's untimely hamstring injury, is believed to be permanent.
De Fratus, Aumont: It's also a sign that the Phillies are "out with the old, in with the new" in their Triple-A bullpen testing ground. Relievers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont were both bumped up from Double to Triple-A. In 23 relief appearances, De Fratus posted a record of 4-0 with eight saves. He surrendered just 28 hits and 14 walks in 34 1-3 innings, striking out 43 in the process. His 2.10 ERA was the lowest among any Reading pitcher with 25 innings or more. Aumont was equally solid on the hill during his time with the R-Phils, recording the second-lowest WHIP on the team (1.100). He punched out 41 batters in 31 innings, allowing 23 hits and 11 walks en route to a tough-luck 1-5 record and a 2.32 ERA.
The IronPigs also received veteran minor league lefty Ryan Edell, 27, who was 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA in 12 starts for Reading.
Overbeck moves up: Meanwhile, Ronnie Belliard's retirement created an opening to promote mashing first baseman Cody Overbeck from Reading to Lehigh Valley. In 257 Double-A plate appearances, Overbeck had a .275/.331/.532 slash line with 18 homers and 46 RBIs. He's considered a more well-rounded prospect than fellow thumper Matt Rizzotti, as this promotion suggests.
In the wake of these moves, Reading filled their own roster gaps with converted first baseman Joe Savery and relievers Justin Friend and Chance Chapman.
Redding: It wasn't long ago that Tim Redding, who was a Phillies nuisance between 2007-08 with Washington, remade himself as a marketable free agent commodity following a 10-win season in 2008. His peculiar success against the Phils is well known, particularly in those early sessions with Washington. For his career, he's held the Phillies to a .578 OPS. But success quickly faded, as it often does, after signing a free agent deal with the Mets in 2009 (3-6 in 30 games, including 17 starts, with a 5.10 ERA and 76/50 K/BB ratio in 120 innings). He hasn't been back in the Majors since then, pitching in 2010 in the Rockies and Yankees farm systems, along with a short stint in Korea. This season, following a serious run at cracking the Dodgers' starting five in spring training, he posted a 6.59 ERA in 12 starts at Triple-A Albuquerque before opting out of his contract earlier this week.
He's strictly filler, which is all the Phillies need, but perhaps there's a spot start in his future if he can rattle off some consistent outings. The Phils were linked to Redding last April when they were monitoring his status with Colorado.