Phillies @ Dodgers July 17, 2012: Here is the Fife

As we expected, Chad Billingsley was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness, and Stephen Fife was recalled to make his major league debut. I know you would have all preferred John Ely, and I would have too, given that he’s had (brief) major league success before and is having a surprisingly good season in Albuquerque. No, Ely’s not on the 40-man roster while Fife is, but given that Todd Coffey can easily be shifted to the 60-day DL, opening up a spot shouldn’t be hard. So what gives, right?

Phillies
Dodgers
SS
Rollins
LF
Abreu
CF
Victorno
2B
M.Ellis
2B
Utley
CF
Kemp
1B
Howard
RF
Ethier
C
Ruiz
3B
Kennedy
RF
Pence
1B
Loney
LF
Pierre
SS
Cruz
3B
Polanco
C
A.Ellis
P
Halladay
P
Fife

Well, that was my thinking at first, but in the wonderful world of roster arithmetic, it makes sense. Billingsley reportedly didn’t even want to miss one start and – in theory, anyway – could be back as soon as his 15 days are up. Given that it’s already been 10 days since he pitched, prior to the All-Star break, and since the Dodgers have a day off on Thursday, he could potentially be back early next week having missed only one turn; in fact, Don Mattingly has already said that he plans to start Billingsley on Monday. That being the case, a likely scenario is that Fife pitches tonight, gets shipped out tomorrow for Michael Antonini no matter how well he does, Antonini sits around for a few days and once again doesn’t get into a game, and then Billingsley takes his place next week. While you could get Ely on the 40-man roster easily, you’d then have to keep him on it unless you wanted to DFA him, and if the Dodgers are going to make as many moves as we think they will in the next two weeks, you probably don’t want Ely and Fife both holding down spots. So I get it, I suppose.

That makes sense from a roster perspective, but Fife still has to deal with Roy Halladay and the Phillies tonight, and that’s where things get dicey. He’s been adequate in ABQ, with a 4.53 ERA that looks a lot better as a 3.90 FIP, and while he’s not a strikeout guy – just 66 in 97.1 IP – he’s at least been getting better as the season goes on. After allowing 22 runs (18 earned) in just his first four starts, he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs over any of his past eight.

 

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