Phillies try something new in the rotation; Marsh a late lineup scratch originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies optioned reliever Andrew Bellatti to Triple A Tuesday afternoon to make room on the active roster for right-hander Dylan Covey, the team’s new “bulk” pitcher.
Covey is expected to follow left-handed opener Matt Strahm Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks. The Phillies think he has the ability to take down four or five innings, if need be.
Covey’s lone major-league appearance this season with the Dodgers came in the same sort of role, the only difference being he didn’t know ahead of time. Dustin May was forced out of his start on May 17 after one inning with an elbow injury, so Covey came in to pitch the next four. He allowed two runs on solo home runs by Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo.
The Phillies acquired the 31-year-old Covey via a waiver claim Saturday, adding him to their 40-man roster and freeing up a spot by transferring Darick Hall to the 60-day injured list.
They needed another pitcher capable of providing length and still doing. The Phillies have no fifth starter after optioning Bailey Falter (0-7, 5.13 ERA) to Triple A last week. Strahm is no longer an option in the rotation — aside from opener-like appearances — because of his innings count. He’ll be nearly 80 percent of the way towards his 2022 innings total after Tuesday’s game and the Phillies are adamant about protecting his arm.
Covey spent 2021 and 2022 pitching in China after struggling mightily for the White Sox and Red Sox from 2017-20.
Covey was originally a first-round pick, 14th overall, by the Brewers in the 2010 draft, the year Bryce Harper went first. However, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during his post-draft physical and ended up not signing his reported $1.7 million bonus with the Brewers, choosing instead to stay close to home to adjust to his new condition and attend San Diego State.
He reentered the draft three summers later and was taken in the fourth round by the Athletics. The first three years of his professional career came in Oakland’s farm system before he was selected by the White Sox in the 2016 Rule 5 draft. He went on to make 45 starts with Chicago, going 6-29 with a 6.54 ERA before restarting his career in China.
It’s a low-risk play for the Phillies, who need to find innings somewhere. Covey probably won’t be the last starter/long reliever the Phillies cycle through this season as they try to find stability at the end of the rotation.
Bellatti was the odd man out in the bullpen after throwing 22 pitches Monday night. He missed three weeks with right triceps tendinitis, returned on May 13 and allowed three runs (two earned) with three walks in four appearances.
The Phillies like what they’ve seen from Jeff Hoffman and Andrew Vasquez, so the decision came down to Bellatti or Yunior Marte. Marte has the fresher arm and looked closer to the spring training version of himself in his last appearance Saturday, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning.
Brandon Marsh was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup just over an hour before game time with right shoulder inflammation. Dalton Guthrie took his place in center field. The Phillies are calling Marsh day to day.
Marsh did not start Sunday or Monday when the Phillies faced left-handers. He went 2 for 4 on May 1 after a huge month of April to boost his slash line to .337/.422/.640 with 15 extra-base hits and 14 RBI in 28 games.
In 17 games since, he’s gone 4-for-41 (.098) with one extra-base hit and two RBI, although he’s walked 11 times.