As you may have read on this site, the Phillies have placed righthander David Herndon on the 15-day disabled list with elbow inflammation. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI in the near future. In the meantime, the Phillies have several options down on the farm, and the 40-man roster flexibility to do whatever they feel is in the best interest of the club.
The most intriguing option is lefty Jake Diekman, who drew raves from the coaching staff for his performance during spring training. Diekman is on the 40-man roster, although that might not be a major factor since the Phillies have one open spot there. What they will likely consider are the 17 strikeouts and three walks that Diekman has tallied in 11 innings at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. The hard-throwing lefty has allowed one run on 13 hits this season. He last pitched on Sunday, when he struck out three and walked two in 1 1/3 innings. Before that, he pitched on April 26.
Adding another lefty to the mix would make sense heading into a three-game series against the Braves, who feature lefty sluggers Brian McCann and Jason Heyward as well as leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. The Phillies could opt to go the veteran route, as lefty Raul Valdez has 15 strikeouts and no walks along with a 3.14 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. He would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
If the Phillies want a righty, veteran Brian Sanches (12 strikeouts, 2 walks, 3.21 ERA in 14 innings) would make sense. Prospect Justin De Fratus is on the disabled list with an elbow injury, while Phillippe Aumont has struggled with his command, walking nine against 13 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A.
Now might be as good a time as any to throw Diekman into the mix. Not only do the Phillies have an immediate need, they are hardly settled in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon, who recorded his eighth save on Monday night. Antonio Bastardo issued a one-out walk in the eighth, and Chad Qualls allowed an RBI single and two-run home run as the Cubs rallied to tie the game at 4-4 before the Phillies won it in the eighth on Placido Polanco's two-run double.
Diekman has the potential to make the sort of impact that Mike Stutes and Bastardo made last season. If the Phillies think they might end up needing another option at the back of the bullpen down the road, this might be a good time to throw Diekman into the fire and see how he responds.