2014 Phillies Report Card: B. J. Rosenberg

B.J. Rosenberg was a 13th round pick in 2008 out of Louisville, and the fact that he’s made it to the bigs from such a position is laudable, (you know there’s trouble coming when someone points out how good someone has to be just to make the majors). About a year ago, there was a glimmer of hope that he might turn into a reliable bullpen arm. He pitched well over the 2013 season, actually accumulating positive fWAR. He was throwing pretty hard, he had worked on his secondary pitches out of the AAA rotation to the point where they seemed passable, and his peripherals in the bigs were fair in a small sample.

2014 came, and Rosenberg broke camp with the big club. On April 14th, things got ugly. If you saw the outing, you’ll remember it. Our man faced three Atlanta batters and gave up three home runs – an MLB first, (what a trailblazer!!!) The Phils kept him around for a couple more outings, then sent him down to AAA, where he was promptly beaned in the head by a line drive. He spent a month on the DL with a concussion and related symptoms. His return to the bigs in late June was ended by ineffectiveness in early July, and in late July he spent another month on the AAA DL with a hip injury. He came back in August and re-aggravated it after two games, and finished the year back on the DL. On Monday, the Phillies got Rosenberg through waivers and sent him outright to AAA.

So I’m sure he’s thrilled with how his year went.

Reading through the transactions and a couple articles left me feeling a little bit depressed for the guy. What a nightmare year. I’m kind of baffled that I didn’t read that his dog died or his wife left him or something. Probably I just didn’t search long enough.

A couple items of note from a small sample of a season – Rosenberg didn’t allow a home run in around 20 IP in 2013, but he allowed five in 12 IP in 2014. He allowed a .395 BABIP, which is either very unlucky or indicative of the hard contact guys were making against him – five homers in 12 IP sorta suggests some hard contact was being made, in general. Sorta. And his GB% slid down to around 30% after being in the mid-upper 30s in his previous two seasons. Put it all together and you get results like a 6.75 ERA, an 8.80 FIP and a 5.34 xFIP.

One thing I noticed when digging into his Pitch f/x was that his primary (two-seam) fastball velocity was down by 1.3MPH compared to 2013, after a similar slip from 2012 to 2013. That’s not encouraging for the future of the now 29-year-old right arm of Mr. Rosenberg, especially when many around the game have pointed out how straight and flat his fastball seems in the first place. Here’s a chart showing his velo averages.

bjr velo

With his outright on Monday, the Phils have cleared a 40-man roster spot and likely managed to hold onto Rosenberg. I’d guess they intend to keep him around as right-handed depth in 2015, but he’s out of options, so every trip up to the big club that doesn’t end with him sticking for good is a trip that will expose him to waivers at the end. Corey Seidman mentioned in his piece today that BJ could elect free agency instead of accepting his assignment to AAA, but I suspect he’ll stick around.

For a little while on Monday, I was a little surprised that no one grabbed BJ off the waiver wire. But with big league clubs surely seeing the red flags that I see now that I’ve sat down to analyze his season a little, my surprise has subsided.

Grade: F, but I do feel pretty bad about it.

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