You can't buy your health. That's exactly what Cole Hamels is finding out after coming down with a "gastrointestinal issue" - the flu to me and you - and being scratched from his start tonight against the New York Mets.
As luck would have it, Tyler Cloyd, who has been among the top two or three stories of the season in the Phillies minor league system this season, was scheduled to pitch tonight for Lehigh Valley. So, he'll simply take his start about 60 miles down the Pennsylvania Turnpike and pitch in front of about 33,000 more people than he normally would have.
Ironically, Cloyd goes from pitching in a game with playoff implications to pitching in one with pride saving implications in Philadelphia. Lehigh Valley is 1 1/2 games out of the wild-card slot in the International League, while the Phillies stand ten games out in the National League wild-card race.
Cloyd has had somewhat of a movie script type season. Just like with his start tonight, his first start of the season was at a level higher than he figured it would be. When veteran starter Dave Bush was suspended for his opening day start, Cloyd was summoned to pitch, throwing the opener for Lehigh Valley rather than for Double-A Reading about 40 miles down Route 222. He wound up throwing six perfect innings, while striking out eight, but was back at Double-A, where he would make four starts prior to being brought back to Lehigh Valley for the rest of the season.
Between Reading and Lehigh Valley, Cloyd is 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA in 26 starts. He is currently tied for the most wins in all of minor league baseball and was named the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher yesterday.
Cloyd was an 18th round pick and came into the season as somewhat of an unheralded prospect in the Phillies minor league system, overshadowed by the likes of Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone and Jesse Biddle.
While Cloyd isn't known for being a power pitcher, one NL scout, who has seen him pitch a number of times, likes what he sees.
"He can survive, because he can locate his pitches and has good movement. Sometimes, that's better than just being able to put up big radar numbers," explained the scout.
Cloyd will be opposed by fellow rookie Matt Harvey, one of the top pitching prospects in the Mets organization. Harvey went 7-5, 36.8 in 20 starts with Triple-A Buffalo this season and is 2-3, 2.75 in six starts with the Mets. While both Harvey and Cloyd pitched in the International League this season, they did not oppose each other.
The Phillies have not announced a corresponding move to clear room for Cloyd on the roster, but will do so prior to tonight's game. Lehigh Valley will fill Cloyd's spot in the rotation with veteran Scott Elarton, who was activated from the DL on Wednesday.