Rosenthal: Phillies’ bullpen “alarmingly thin”

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote a small blurb about the Phillies’ bullpen in his column posted on Monday:

The Phillies, after losing their first two games to the Rockies, went an impressive 6-4 on their trip to Colorado, Los Angeles and Arizona. Still, the team’s right-handed relief after Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams remains alarmingly thin – and Adams, coming off shoulder surgery, needs to be handled with care.

Right-hander Ken Giles is throwing 98 mph at Double A with a 21/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but this is his first season above Class A. An outside addition would be helpful – Brad Lincoln, B.J. Rosenberg and Justin De Fratus have not proven to be the answers.Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports

As I wrote recently, the Phillies would be best served by being patient with Giles. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by his numbers right now, but remember that he’s only logged 11 innings this season, the equivalent of about two outings for a starting pitcher. And, as Rosenthal mentioned, this is Giles’ first taste of competition above A-ball. If he can consistently overpower Double-A and Triple-A competition, then he could be considered a viable option for the Phillies. For now, though, bringing him up would A) stunt his development, and B) start his service time clock way earlier than is necessary. Giles alone is not going to fix the Phillies’ bullpen woes, so they would simply be losing a year of control for a very marginal upgrade, if any at all.

Kevin Gregg is one possibility. Gregg, 35, is still a free agent despite posting a 3.48 ERA over 62 innings with the Cubs last year. He has no injury history, which is nice. However, the dings against him are obvious: he’s relatively old, doesn’t have great control (walked 12% of batters in each of the last two seasons), and is fly ball-prone (ground ball/fly ball ratio was below 1.1 in three of his last four seasons). Beggers, however, can’t be choosers and if the Phillies are looking for bullpen depth, one can do worse than swapping out whoever’s on the seventh rung of the bullpen — Shawn Camp at this point — for Gregg.

Via Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Gregg says he’s still waiting for a phone call. While he’s been jobless, the right-hander has been working out and pitching to college hitters near his Oregon home.

Joel Hanrahan is another option. Hanrahan, 32, had been working out for teams. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported last week that the right-hander has received “a few” offers from interested teams, but was not close to signing. Hanrahan spent 2013 with the Red Sox, but went on the disabled list in early May with an elbow injury. He underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16. Hanrahan also had a procedure done to repair his flexor tendon and remove bone chips.

The Pirates took a flier on Hanrahan, acquiring him in a trade with the Nationals in June 2009. It turned out to be a great gamble for the Pirates, as Hanrahan went on to post a 2.59 ERA with 82 saves and a 2.7 K/BB ratio in 229 1/3 innings.

Octavio Dotel is also available. The 40-year-old hasn’t retired and told MLB.com’s Bobby Nightengale last September that he’s still interested in pitching. Dotel, pitching for the Tigers, suffered a right elbow injury in mid-April, knocking him out for the season. As recently as 2012, however, he posted good strikeout and walk rates and only allowed three home runs in 58 innings.

Trading for a reliever would be a bit more difficult this early in the season. Those options are more likely to open up once more teams realize their fate and make some of their players available. So if the Phillies don’t want to sign one of the few veteran relievers still available, they would have to wait another month or two before any real options would present themselves.

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12 comments

  1. Beez Nutz

    April 29, 2014 09:35 AM

    When is Ethan Martin due back? Would he be a candidate to work out of the pen?

    • MattWinks

      April 29, 2014 10:07 AM

      The Phillies have stated that Martin will work exclusively as a reliever. He threw an inning yesterday as part of an extended Spring Training game.

      • Beez Nutz

        April 29, 2014 10:47 AM

        Nice thanks Matt

  2. Chris S.

    April 29, 2014 10:35 AM

    I still believe that De Fratus can be a major league reliever. Also Ethan Martin has a chance to be a dominant reliever . Just look at his numbers by inning last year and it is clear that a relief role is in Martin’s future. That would be a pen of Adams, Papelbon, Diekman, Bastardo, De Fratus, and Martin and a long guy like Manship. Overall in my opinion that is not a bad bullpen at least not as bad as they have been lately.

  3. Bob

    April 29, 2014 10:37 AM

    Gregg projects to have 4.3 FIP, 7.66 k/9, 3.94 bb/9, 1.4 whip, and probably a 4+ SIERA. He will be a league average reliever; maybe slightly worse.

    Hanrahan projects to have 3.74 FIP, 8.81 k/9, 3.37 bb/9, 1.29 whip, and a possible sub-4 SIERA. He looks like a pretty good bounce back option statistically. But he must not look good in person or else he might’ve been signed by now.

    Dotel projects to have a 4.7 FIP, 7.4 k/9, 2.43 bb/9, 1.25 whip. In 2013, he had a 5+ SIERA, but the two seasons preceding he had a sub-3 SIERA. He could have some upside if he regains the 3 mph he lost on his fastball in 2013. If not, he might have some problems.

    Of the choices, I would go with Hanrahan if he’s healthy.

  4. Alex Riley - Hitter's Count

    April 29, 2014 11:10 AM

    Is Ugueth Urbina out of jail yet?

    Does Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez have a chance to contribute when healthy, or is he just counting $4 million a year Ruben gave him?

    • Francisco (FC)

      April 29, 2014 11:20 AM

      Actually Ugueth Urbina is indeed out of Jail, Age wise he’s kind of like the Venezuelan version of Octavio Dotel at this point though.

  5. PigPen

    April 29, 2014 04:00 PM

    Along with Martin, there’s also MAG who is now back to hitting 94 mph in his bullpens. MAG was not exactly lights out in S.T. with his stuff, but he did show very good poise & had “the look” of someone that doesn’t get rattled – - – the anti-aumont.

    There’s also the possibility of moving Fausto to the Pen & bring up Pettibone/Buchanan to pitch the #5 slot.

    Gregg has a very bad personality rep around the league, that’s why no teams have touched him.

    • PigPen

      April 29, 2014 05:45 PM

      Oh and Ryan Maddson is still floating out there, though he will prob need at least a month to get into mlb game shape.

    • hk

      April 29, 2014 06:42 PM

      Where did you read or hear that MAG is throwing 94?

  6. B.J. Rassam

    April 29, 2014 11:10 PM

    Agree, I only like Adams and Papelbon based on performance levels so far in ’14.

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