Phils claim Covey to help solve pitching struggles

May 20th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are scrambling to solve their starting pitching problems, and Saturday afternoon they announced they claimed right-hander  off waivers from the Dodgers.

He could pitch Tuesday.

Covey’s arrival could be why the Phillies said right-hander (3-2, 6.53 ERA) will pitch on short rest in Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs. Walker threw 40 pitches in just two-thirds of an inning in his last start Wednesday in San Francisco. The Phillies originally ticketed Sunday as a possible bullpen game, with  scheduled to pitch Monday and Walker scheduled to pitch Tuesday. Covey allows the Phillies to make Tuesday that hypothetical bullpen game, if Covey does not start.

Covey allowed five hits, two runs, one walk and two home runs in four innings in relief Wednesday against the Twins. It was his only appearance with the Dodgers, and his first in the big leagues since 2020. He was 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) this season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He is 6-29 with a 6.54 ERA in 72 appearances (45 starts) in a five-year career with the White Sox, Red Sox and Dodgers.

Covey spent the 2021-22 season pitching professionally in China.

The Phillies’ rotation entered Saturday with a 5.06 ERA, which ranked 24th in baseball. The team optioned left-hander (0-7, 5.13 ERA) to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, despite not having an obvious replacement. Maybe Covey is the guy. Maybe not. Philadelphia right-hander has struck out 11 and walked two in six innings in four relief appearances. Hoffman has started in the past, and Phillies manager Rob Thomson said they have discussed stretching him out again, but he also said they love how his stuff plays up as a reliever.

Triple-A left-handers (1-3, 6.08 ERA) and Cristopher Sánchez (0-2, 6.08 ERA) and right-hander (injured) are the only remaining starters on the 40-man roster. Right-hander Noah Skirrow (4-1, 4.46 ERA) is perhaps their only other realistic option on the IronPigs’ pitching staff, but he is not on the 40-man roster.

Andrew Painter, Philadelphia's top prospect per MLB Pipeline, is still recovering from an injured right elbow. The Phillies expect him to be pitching competitively sometime this summer. No. 2 prospect Mick Abel (2-2, 4.50 ERA) has struck out 32, but walked 16 in 30 innings. No. 3 prospect Griff McGarry (0-0, 1.93 ERA) has made just two starts with Double-A Reading following an oblique injury. He probably needs more time to build up.

“I don’t know if you can ever have too much starting pitching depth, but we’ve been tested here in the early going,” Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said Wednesday in San Francisco. “We still have confidence in Bailey, and we still have confidence that we have some guys who can step up. But there’s no doubt that we can benefit from a deeper bench when it comes to the starting rotation.”