Oberholtzer appears set to start in bullpen role

Left-hander was considered for final rotation spot this spring

Oberholtzer appears set to start in bullpen role

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brett Oberholtzer can read between the lines.

But he can read the Phillies' pitching schedule, too. He will pitch back-to-back games as a reliever later this week, which is a good indication he will open the season in the bullpen.

"I guess the writing is on the wall," Oberholtzer said Sunday morning at Bright House Field. "Literally."

Oberholtzer, 26, is out of options, so he had a guaranteed spot on the Opening Day roster. The Phillies acquired him in the Ken Giles trade in December, so they obviously had no plans of losing him. But the storyline entering Spring Training is that he had a chance to be the Phillies' No. 5 starter because he has a 3.84 ERA in 42 big league starts.

Oberholtzer strikes out Headley

The Phillies need quality starters. Phillies starters not named Cole Hamels, Adam Morgan, Aaron Nola or Jerad Eickhoff posted a combined 6.19 ERA in 106 starts last season. That cannot happen again.

But while everybody acknowledged Oberholtzer deserved consideration to start, the belief remained that he would open in the bullpen because of his versatility and because the Phillies also liked Vince Velasquez and Morgan. Oberholtzer threw eight scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action, plus three scoreless innings in a Minor League game, while Velasquez has a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings -- including allowing just one run and striking out seven in his last start, which saw him go five innings -- and Morgan has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings, plus five scoreless innings in a Minor League game.

Velasquez or Morgan will be the Phillies' No. 5, assuming Jeremy Hellickson, Nola, Charlie Morton and Eickhoff open the season healthy.

Oberholtzer picks off Ramirez

Oberholtzer said he is OK with the situation.

"Absolutely," he said. "Once the roster is set and we head up to Philly, there's going to be moves just because guys get hurt and things happen. For me, it's just go out there and be prepared for any role."

Oberholtzer could be the first option to start should somebody get injured early in the season. Because of his versatility, he has experience with having his role fluctuate throughout the season.

"I've been in the bullpen and up and down and used in different roles at different times, so I've been accustomed to not throwing, throwing, different schedules and all that stuff," Oberholtzer said. "It's just really getting used to a routine and going about it that way. Being prepared to be used every other day or every day, three innings, maybe one batter. I for sure think I have the mentality for it. To be able to go out there and get outs whenever my name is called. But again there's nothing that's set in stone."

Oberholtzer fans Bell

Nothing is official, but Oberholtzer also has been around long enough to know what's happening.

"I haven't gotten a start officially," he said. "So yeah, I feel like I kind of got the hint that maybe it's the role they're using me in."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.