O'Sullivan struggles as rotation decisions loom

With Billingsley set to return, Phils could opt to stick with younger arms

O'Sullivan struggles as rotation decisions loom

PHILADELPHIA -- On a day the Phillies hired Andy MacPhail as the next team president, signifying the beginning of a new era, it was somewhat easy to forget about the team of the present.

But as interim manager Pete Mackanin said after Monday's 7-4 loss to Milwaukee, losing years are sometimes the best years to evaluate talent.

"We want to get [young players] in there as much as possible," Mackanin said. "I think this is a good year to find out about guys."

With that quote, Mackanin was referring to the would-be offensive core of the Phillies of the future; players like Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Darin Ruf and Odubel Herrera. But the sentiment also stands for the inverse. This year has also afforded the Phillies the possibility to evaluate pitching talent, both young and old, and see who can perform to varying degrees of success.

Hernandez's RBI single

One such player has been Sean O'Sullivan. The 27-year-old in his sixth season in the bigs allowed a season high in hits Monday with 12, giving up six runs in five innings and getting his sixth loss of the year. His ERA jumped to 5.76 after the outing, now the highest of any pitcher on the Phillies' active roster.

To O'Sullivan, his lack of success Monday night stemmed from his inability to capitalize on favorable situations.

"I think I was ahead of guys all night," O'Sullivan said. "The problem was putting them away when I was ahead in the count. I think in the first, third, fifth [innings] it was get a couple of guys on, minimize the damage. But offense hands you a four-run lead you can't get lit up. Tonight's really on me."

Mackanin said he had to be careful with O'Sullivan's innings knowing that the bullpen was not at full strength after pitching 7 1/3 innings of Sunday's doubleheader. This led Mackanin to have to be "a little creative" the third time through the lineup. As creative as Mackanin was, six of the nine players in the Brewers' lineup reached base the third time through the lineup, with five hits.

With Chad Billingsley returning from the disabled list Thursday to start the final game of this four-game series vs.vthe Brewers, the Phillies are about to have one too many arms in the rotation. Based on whose spot in the rotation Billingsley is filling, it would appear that Adam Morgan is the odd arm out. But based off of Morgan's performance in his one full start two Sundays ago, he might factor in as another one of the young cogs Mackanin wants to keep around, and one of the more veteran pitchers might be the man sent down to the Minors or designated for assignment.

This uncertainty in the back end of the rotation extends even to Mackanin, who said he isn't sure who will remain on the roster and who, if anyone, will be sent down.

"I have to talk to [general manager] Ruben [Amaro] and [pitching coach Bob McClure] with the situation in the bullpen," Mackanin said. "We're going to discuss it. I'm not sure what the move is going to be right now. As we know we'll let you know."

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.