The bags are packed, the truck is gassed. As CBP lies under a white blanket of snow the Phillies will head south to sunny Clearwater, Florida this week in anticipation of pitchers and catchers on February 13th. With few new additions and guys to get excited about, I give you one that should be on your radar, Jake Diekman. The Diiieeeek Maaaaan!
The 27 year-old, 6'4 lefty throws hard and is just beginning to find himself in the big leagues. Pretty much the only guy who brought excitement and intrigue to a porous bullpen in 2013.
Last off-season RAJ looked to find a 8th inning stud on the free agent market in the likes of veteran righty Mike Adams. Despite surgery to remove part of his rib Adams had a strong spring in 2013 and it carried into the regular season. Shoulder issues, potentially tied to his previous surgery, plagued Adams the rest of the season and was eventually shut down. Adams hopes to be ready for Opening Day but there are no guarantees.
In steps southpaw Jake Diekman, with an electric arm capable of holding down the 8th inning. The Diek Man finished strong in 2013 and is poised to shine again. In 45 appearances, last season, Diekman finished with a 2.58 ERA, 41 strikeouts & a 1.30 WHIP
Diekman started out 2013 with the Iron Pigs after a strong spring training in Clearwater. He continued that performance in Lehigh Valley, dominating lefties, as the closer for the Pigs, boasting a 0.59 ERA and 5 saves in April. He was added to the Phillies 25-man roster on May 11.
From June through Septemer Diekman continued to improve and wow opposing hitters. His ERA dipped month after month. In the final month of the season he posted his best numbers, in 10 appearances (8.1 IP) the Diek Man allowed only 3 hits and 1 run, a 1.08 ERA and .72 WHIP. Oppenents hit just .143 against the lefty in September.
With so many bullpen disappointments in 2013 and so many question marks heading into 2014 the Diek Man is one to keep an eye on! His hard throwing, electrifying arm will bring phans out of their seats. Diekman throws with attitude, aggression and pop, his fastball brings opposing players to the top step. He cut down on his walks in 2013 and started throwing a ton more strikes. Pap and Adams better watch their backs because Diekman looks to make his mark in 2014. I believe he has the making of a dominant pen arm poised to be the closer for the Phillies in the near future.