Originally posted on Philly Sports World  |  Last updated 5/16/12

Jake Diekman was impressive in his Major League Debut as he picked up the win for the Phillies. Diekman could be a key piece for the future of the Phillies' bullpen.

It was the same old story for Cliff Lee. Eight innings of one run baseball and this team still couldn’t get him the win.

It seems as though this starting rotation is completely snakebitten and unable to get solid play from their defensive teammates. Chad Qualls entered the game and did exactly what we are becoming used to seeing the bullpen do; he gave up the lead. He gave up as many runs as he did outs, tallying four hits and to earned runs in just two thirds of an inning. But then, with the score tied and runners on second and third, the Philadelphia faithful got a chance to see one of the most highly touted pitching prospects this town has in their system.

Jake Diekman was drafted in 2007 by the Phillies and has been in the organization ever since. I personally got to watch Jake pitch on a regular basis for two years when he was with the Williamsport Crosscutters in 07-08. At that point, he was sporadic at best, thriving mostly in a reliever roll. His pitching motion was fundamentally sound, but his velocity and movement still left a lot to be desired. However, his abilities were unquestionable and he was promoted to Lakewood halfway through the 2008 season.

The big change happened in 2010 when he finally made it to Clearwater. The (almost always overlooked) coaching staff began to tinker with Jake’s routine, bringing him to a three-quarter arm positioning instead of his standard over-the-top motion. Once he finally got a handle on the motion, the improvement was astronomical. He thrived this year in spring training, and maintained a devastatingly low 0.59 ERA in 13 appearances at Lehigh. To put that in perspective, Diekman gave up only one on run in 15 innings of baseball.

Today, he got the opportunity to debut under some very stressful circumstances. Trying to escape an inning with a tie when runners are already in scoring position is tough for a seasoned veteran, let alone a 24-year-old kid playing pro ball for the first time. However, Jake showed everyone in attendance why Charlie Manuel gave him the go-ahead. His first batter faced as a pro was struck out on a vicious slider.

And Diekman wasn’t done. When the Phillies failed to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, he was given the ball again in the tenth. Two more strikeouts and a routine fly ball to right-center made Jake look completely calm and in his element. In the bottom of the inning, Hunter Pence belted a line drive that barely made it over the wall in left field to seal a walk-off victory. Jake earned a victory in his first major-league game. He now has more wins in the past four weeks then Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay combined (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Diekman’s velocity, coupled with a slider that literally just falls off the plane of motion, can make him a legitimate contender for Papelbon’s set-up man. Honestly, another arm in the bullpen can do nothing but help at this point. The pen has been struggling notoriously for the past month, and Jake could be the plug in the bottom of a sinking boat. It will be interesting to see how fast he recovers from a multi-inning appearance, but if he can keep his arm strong and maintain the speed and movement that he presented today, he has a very high ceiling.

This is our first pitching prospect in a long time that is being bred as a reliever. It’s nice to see that the organization is finally recognizing a key flaw in the roster. If Diekman can stay the course, he can be the focal point of a completely revamped and young bullpen in the near future. Having a guy that can come in and give these All-Star starters a little more confidence can also make them that much better.

It’s nice to dream of the day when Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels can pitch seven innings and be comfortable giving up the ball. If Jake Diekman’s debut today is any sign of the things to come, that day could be rapidly approaching.

Similar Posts:

  • Phillies Shake Up the Roster; Promote Diekman and Luna
  • Phillies’ Bullpen Woes Proving Fatal
  • Phillies’ Cliff Lee to the Disabled List with Oblique Strain
  • Like It or Not, What You’ve Seen is What the 2012 Phillies Are
  • Velocity Dip Be Damned – Halladay Dominant in First Start

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