The Phillies need a starting pitcher, and their promotion of Joe Savery to take the spot of Roy Halladay still leaves them without one when Doc's spot in the rotation comes back around in a few days. Savery is a bullpen arm and will not be used as a starter, which leaves another move pending this week.
Biddle, who was already on most people's radar as the best prospect in the Phillies organization, went even more mainstream a two weeks ago when the left-hander struck out 16 batters in a start. He followed it up with a 10 strike out start his next time out. But as Salisbury points out, he still has his work to do in the developmental process, as he failed to get out of the first inning on Saturday after walking four batters.
But even if Biddle was still striking out double-digit batters every time out, he still wouldn't be the right option, for two reasons.
First, the Phillies have other options who have more minor league experience and polish. Salisbury points out Tyler Cloyd and Adam Morgan as the two most likely candidates, and Morgan appears to be the best option if the days of rest line up properly. Morgan emerged last season as a potential big league starter, posting a 5-to-1 K/BB ratio in High-A ball before a late-season promotion to Double-A.
The Phillies gave him an aggressive assignment this season, but he's held his own in Triple-A this year, and continues to demonstrate great control, even with the dip in his strike out numbers this season. Cloyd, who made a late-season cameo in the majors last season, could be a placeholder in the Phillies rotation, but Morgan is a pitcher who could be in the Phillies plans by next season, and giving him a taste of the majors this season could provide him with valuable experience without rushing him too badly.
Which is exactly what they'd be doing with Biddle.
The issue with Biddle is more than that he's not ready for the majors - which he's not. It's that he will be soon enough, and the Phillies are going to need him when he is.
The Phillies have so much money tied up in large contracts that they need to get production from young, inexpensive players. They don't have any of those players this season, which is why they are struggling so much and getting such little production from their non-star players. With Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Howard all on the books long-term, the Phillies are going to need production in 2014-17 from Biddle at the league-minimum rate. If they call him up now, they will waste one of those seasons on this year when Biddle will be at less than his full potential and value.
That type of short-term planning is part of how the Phillies got themselves in the financial bind they're in now, so it's good that they're keeping Biddle in the minors despite their rotation opening. Regardless of their reasoning, they've made the right decision, as long as they stick to it.