PHILADELPHIA -- When the Phillies arrive in Cincinnati for a four-game series on Thursday, it will have been 667 days since they last started a left-hander on the mound.Ranger Suarez, the Phillies' No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will change that by making his Major League debut in the
PHILADELPHIA -- When the Phillies arrive in Cincinnati for a four-game series on Thursday, it will have been 667 days since they last started a left-hander on the mound.
Ranger Suarez, the Phillies' No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will change that by making his Major League debut in the series opener, said an excited Gabe Kapler from the Citizens Bank Park dugout Tuesday afternoon. The Phillies need a spot start after using both Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez in Sunday's doubleheader.
"He's shown the ability to get swings and misses in and out of the strike zone," Kapler said. "Got a good sinker. Incredible demeanor, we saw it in Spring Training. He's got -- there's some courage there. I don't think situations get too big for him."
Suarez, 22, began the season in the rotation at Double-A Reading. He went 4-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts to earn a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's excelled in three starts since then, posting a 0.57 ERA by spacing one run over 15 2/3 innings.
The Phillies signed Suarez out of Venezuela in 2012. He'll follow Drew Anderson and Enyel De Los Santos as IronPigs members to make starts for the Major League club this year. It is not out of the question to think Suarez could contribute in a bullpen role when rosters expand in September.
"There's a lot of swag on the mound," Kapler said of Suarez. "There's a lot of kind of bravado. There's a confidence to execute his pitches."
Adam Morgan was the last left-hander to start for Philadelphia, back on Sept. 28, 2016, against the Braves.
The Phillies recalled Anderson from Lehigh Valley before Tuesday's game. To make room on the active roster, Yacksel Rios was optioned to Triple-A.
Anderson allowed four earned runs in a five-inning start in Pittsburgh earlier this month, his only Major League appearance this season. He's posted a 4.02 ERA in 12 starts with Lehigh Valley.
"I never look at a pitcher as just protection or just length," Kapler said. "But certainly the way we used our 'pen last night, and the way we could use it for the next couple of days, we needed to have somebody who could provide some innings for us."
On Tuesday morning, Cesar Hernandez was named the Phillies' 2018 recipient of the Heart & Hustle Award.
The annual honor is given to one player from each team by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) to recognize active players who "demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game." It's the only award in MLB that is voted on by former players, which is done prior to the All-Star break.
The overall winner will be announced Nov. 8, 2018, at the 19th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, which impact more than 18,000 children each year at 185 clinics, allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.
• Jerad Eickhoff will throw live batting practice in Clearwater, Fla., on Saturday. He hasn't pitched all season because of a tingling sensation in his fingers.
"We're probably not looking beyond just him feeling good and executing all of his pitches and being healthy -- and then making plans," Kapler said. "Because that's really the first step."
• J.P. Crawford will also travel to Clearwater to continue his comeback from a broken bone in his left hand. He began taking grounders and hitting off a tee last week.
Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.