The Phillies have been waiting all season for a reliever to emerge from their batch of rookies. Michael Schwimer, who held all of his inherited runners at bay in the seventh inning Tuesday, has raised his hand to volunteer.
Schwimer, who has allowed just one run in his last 7 2-3 innings, relieved Vance Worley and was handed runners at second and third with no outs and escaped unscathed, thanks in large to a perfect one-hop throw by John Mayberry Jr. to nail Michael McKenry at the plate (timely defense, Carlos Ruiz's full-out assault on baseball and the Spirit of St. Utley being the evening's other subplots).
A year ago, we were signing the praises of darkhorse right-hander Michael Stutes, who bulled his way to a late-inning assignment after missing the cut to head north out of spring training. At this time last year, Stutes was rocking a 2.81 ERA and .579 OPS against. (Ask Cliff Lee whether he's still be winless if the Phils had the Stutes of '11 this season).
Schwimer is a similar animal to Stutes, a fastball-slider guy with the occasional split who's a little harder and heavier with his pitches than Stutes. He altered his slider grip at the suggestion of Rich Dubee, this according to Jim Salisbury's postgame: "Since making a mechanical adjustment in his delivery and learning a new slider grip from pitching coach Dubee a couple of weeks ago, Schwimer has allowed just one run in his last 7 2/3 innings. 'Those are the kinds of situations I absolutely love,' Schwimer said of the seventh-inning jam. 'I’ve had problems getting too emotional with it in the past, but I feel like I’ve learned from past failures and been able to channel my emotion and make good pitches.' "
Valdes to start: Left-hander Raul Valdes, who has found a niche as the Phillies sponge man, gets the emergency assignment Wednesday as the Phils choose the preverbal "committee." I can still recall the time when Aaron Fultz got that start up in Toronto. Feels like a lifetime ago. Valdes started a game for the Mets in 2010 and got the win, pitching five innings of three-run ball at Washington, a night after taking the loss in relief. He also started seven games for Triple-A Memphis (St. Louis) a season ago.