• Steve Potter

9/28/2020 : 2020 Phillies Review & a Peak Ahead - Pitching

The Phillies finished 28-32 this season, the ninth consecutive year with a losing record. What’s more disappointing is that they finished the year 1-7 ... merely winning one more game during that stretch would have “earned” them a playoff spot. The lack of energy and lackadaisical play from this observer’s view was the most deflating part of the stretch. Injuries surely played a part of it for a few but the fact that collectively they couldn’t step it up is indicative that a “spark” is lacking in this group. Just sayin ... that’s what it looked like.

So ... here’s a look at the principals from this fan’s view going into the off season ...

Starting Pitching :

Zach Eflin was one who indeed stepped up down the stretch ... his near complete game against the Nationals was the sole victory in the last eight contests. He also tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief against Tampa in the last game of the season.

Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler were very good most of the year, Nola continued his September struggles ... inexplicably so. The trio of Nola, Wheeler and Eflin certainly provide a more than competitive combination ...

Those three will approximately make $39 million next season ( Wheeler - 22, Nola - 12 & Eflin - maybe 5 - second year of arbitration).

So what’s beyond that ?

Jake Arrieta is a free agent ... actually the Phillies have a $20 million option but it’s a certainty they won’t exercise that ... could he come back at age 35 at a significantly reduced rate ? Maybe ...

Spencer Howard could fill a spot ... he showed flashes this year of the skills we’ve seen previously on the back fields ... a sore shoulder shut down his year ... we’ve seen that before also. Some might argue he should spend additional time in the minors to build up innings ... he’s tossed over 100 innings just once in his pro career ... from my perspective that can just as easily be accomplished in the major leagues ... he’s talented enough now to get big league hitters out ... no sense wasting innings at a lower level.

Vince Velasquez continues to be an enigma ... sometimes he’s really good but he also continued to experience quick blowups that hurt him and the outcome of games ... he will be in his third year of arbitration and is likely at a $ 4 million salary or thereabouts ... would be a relatively inexpensive part of the equation but perhaps better served as a bullpen piece ... one that’s used often and not the long man ... short spurts ... I keep mentioning the D Backs Archie Bradley ( before he became their closer ) ... I think VV could be valuable in that realm.

Ranger Suarez made a push to be in the rotation in ST ... I thought he had earned it. Then Covid hit, he was one of the fellas infected and truly never came back in an effective manner. He’s just 25 years of age, has the moxy to be an decent starter and the mix of pitches ... plus he’s a lefty that could give a different look to the group. Worth a strong consideration again.

RHP Adonis Medina made his big league debut this year and turned in a credible performance in his one start ... he’s certainly got the mix to be successful ... it’s composure and command that’s held him back to date ... the 24 year old might be best served with some time at the AAA level, he had never pitched above AA before making his big league initial appearance.

Damon Jones is another lefty with considerable upside ... the 26 year old has really good stuff and was stretched out at the Alternate Camp. It’s a matter of what serves as the best role for him, he’s got two above average pitches and therefore could be a very good power reliever ... from my perspective he belongs in the big leagues next season in some role.

It’s been proven that teams need far more than five starters to get thru seasons ... gotta have at least five more options available. It’s difficult to project the AAA and AA rotations given the lost year of development but the following hurlers should at least be in the mix for starting slots including getting some looks in 2020 big league ST ...

LHP David Parkinson

LHP Bailey Falter

LHP Christopher Sanchez ( on the 40 man roster )

RHP Enyel De Los Santos

RHP David Hale ( on the 40 man roster )

RHP Colton Eastman

RHP Julian Garcia

RHP Mauricio Llovera ( on the 40 man roster )

RHP Alejandro Requena

LHP Cole Irvin ( on the 40 man roster )

Perhaps 2021 Fast Risers :

These fellas have never pitched above A ball ... a year lost of competition hurts as they would have certainly been in the 2021 mix for the upper levels if play had occurred ... depending on their individual development during this year’s non season they could still be ...

RHP Francisco Morales ( will be on the 40 man roster - he was in the group that worked out at the Complex all summer )

LHP Erik Miller - power stuff

LHP Nick Fanti ( coming off injury - is ready to go )

LHP Kyle Young ( coming off injury - is ready to go )

RHP Kyle Glogoski

RHP Ben Brown ( coming off injury - is ready to go )

LHP Ethan Lindow

RHP James McArthur

RHP Tyler McKay

LHP Manuel Silva

RHP Kevin Gowdy

RHP Victor Santos

LHP Ethan Evanko

LHP Taylor Lehman


The Bullpen :

It’s certainly not rocket science ... not even Covid science and even a “great” scientist like Donald Trump could deduct the Phillies bullpen needs addressing ! Bullpens are by nature units that vary year to year both in personnel and effectiveness ... the 60 game stretch of 2020 for the Phillies was historically bad for Phillies relievers.

Akin to starting pitching depth is definitely needed in relievers ... and I agree with Bryce Harper’s last interview assessment that bullpen builds should be primarily internally developed. I also believe there are answers to be found within and from our minor league group.

Here’s a look at what could be next season :

I know folks get frustrated with Hector Neris but when he’s not overused he is a very reliable commodity. Hector is due to make $ 7 million next season if the Phillies exercise his contract option. I’m sure they will explore what that kind of money would bring if not paid to Hector but from my perspective it’s a good deal to bring him back ... if the skipper can figure a way to play to Hector’s strengths and avoid multiple back to back appearances ... Neris will never refuse taking the baseball but he’s ineffective in multiple consecutive appearances ...

Tommy Hunter is another veteran hurler who won’t shy away from taking the baseball ... he’s a free agent after signing a late one year deal last spring ... I’m not adverse to him returning again ... is a popular teammate and brings moxy.

David Phelps has a very cheap contract option at $4.5 million that the Phillies could exercise. If he can be the pitcher he was in Milwaukee before the trade and not the guy who struggled here after arriving then the 33 year old certainly has the repertoire to help.

Heath Hembree’s contract was $1.6 million this year ... he’s entering his final arbitration year so is likely at around $ 2 million ... if healthy he can pump mid 90’s fastballs with the best of em ... if not he will struggle like he did with the Phillies after coming here from Boston. At such a low contract amount he’s seemingly worth the look to earn a spot this spring.

It’s my opinion Adam Morgan pitched hurt this year, I don’t think he fully recovered from the forearm issue he had the season before ... that’s just me. Morgan’s contract was $ 1.6 million this season ... he’s entering his second arbitration year ... likely around $ 2 million to come back ... at 30 years of age to me he’s a keeper at that rate and when healthy he’s been very effective.

Blake Parker got the job done more often than not in both of the past two seasons he was with the Phillies ... Mr Wiggles knows how to pitch ... he’s a guy I’d definitely give a shot to.

Jose Alvarez was excellent before he got hurt ... he’s a free agent ... certainly one to consider signing to return.

David Robertson hustled to get back after TJ surgery but couldn’t do so ... if he’s healthy again he just might sign a one year “Prove it “ deal with the Phillies ... I think there’s some loyalty there to consider on his part.

Brandon Workman is a free agent ... I don’t think the Philly fan base could stomach a return ...

Now the “kids” ... I really think this group brings energy, it’s needed and I believe these fellas can supply it ...

Connor Brogdon can be a dominate reliever ... he showed glimpses of that to end the 2020 season ... big time arm with a FB in upper 90’s, a wipeout change up and a decent slider ... comparison to Ryan Madson ... the kid can pitch and should become a go to back end piece. Wants the baseball ...

Jo Jo Romero also brought the energy ... he drank it ... Red Bull should love the guy ! Jo Jo showed mid nineties heat and a nasty slurve to boot ... he’s a lefty that can bring the fire out of the pen for years to come.

Ramon Rosso is another with big arm capabilities ... his unique delivery makes the mid to upper 90’s FB jump on hitters ... nerves got him first time out but after that he settled in ... belongs in the show and could be another big gun out of the pen.

Damon Jones, if not kept In the rotation is another big arm from the left side that could potentially excel out of the pen ... mid 90’s stuff with nasty off speed hook ... would compliment Brogdon very well.

Minor Leaguers who deserve a look ... there’s talent to consider :

LHP Zach Warren - he’s only pitched at the Advanced A level but has power stuff ... upper nineties heat with a big hook ... he’s rule 5 eligible and was a 2019 ST invite ... I’d expect him to be added to the 40 man roster this off season to be protected from the draft.

LHP Jeff Singer - he joined the alternate camp late ... he’s ready for the show ... just needs the chance

LHP Jonathan Hennigan - sits close to mid 90’s with FB but also has excellent movement and spin on off-speed pitches

LHP Garrett Cleavinger - big arm, if can throw strikes can get folks out ( is on the 40 man roster )

LHP Josh Tols - ridiculous movement on his curve ball ... can baffle hitters

LHP Kyle Dohy - the only thing that holds him back is control and command ... has big league stuff - devastating change up as a put away pitch

RHP Victor Arano just never got in shape to contribute this season, in ST he was coming off an injury and thereafter he was behind on conditioning ... is on the 40 man roster ... gonna be a decision to make on the very like-able young man.

RHP JD Hammer was in summer camp and at the alternate site ... he can bring the gas ... perhaps lacks the movement to be consistent but definitely one who can get hitters out in spots with the velocity

RHP Luke Leftwich ended 2019 on the injured list ... he’s going to pitch in Australia this winter ... Luke, when healthy is a very effective reliever who can go multiple innings ...

RHP Trevor Bettencourt is coming off a second Tommy John surgery ... hopefully he’s healthy as he’s got a big league curve that can buckle knees

Guys to watch that should continue to push up the ladder :

... they would be certainly be higher level considerations in 2021 if there had been a 2020 season ... could still be there even still ... depends on what work they were able to do without games to play this year :

RHP Tyler Carr - big arm finished 2019 at Reading after dominating Clearwater/Lakewood

LHP Jakob Hernandez - plus curve ball - 2019 at Reading

LHP Keylan Killgore - plus secondaries - 2019 with Clearwater

RHP Mark Potter - big arm - 2019 with Lakewood

RHP Albertus Barber - big arm - 2019 with Lakewood

RHP Andrew Schultz - big arm - 2019 with Lakewood

RHP Robinson Martinez - big arm - coming off injury ... numbers don’t show it but can 🔥

RHP Brett Shulze - big arm - 2019 with Williamsport - could also be a starter

RHP Tyler Burke - big arm - 2019 with Williamsport - could also be a starter

RHP Tom Sutera - has been developed as a starter but I could see a transition for quick movement - 2019 with Lakewood

Just my take .... I’ll write about position players tomorrow

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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