Headline Writers Rejoice: Fien to the Majors

Last night it came out that the Phillies would be dealing with their bullpen debacle with designating Joely Rodriguez for assignment. Today they announced that they have brought up RHP Casey Fien to take Joely’s spot in the bullpen. The Phillies bullpen is populated with bad pitchers and while you can debate whether Joely Rodriguez is the worst of them, he is certainly part of the problem. This left the Phillies with Adam Morgan as the only left handed pitcher on the roster. Instead of calling up a left like Hoby Milner (who did pitch 2.1 innings last night) or a psuedo lefty like Pat Venditte, the Phillies went with Fien who they purchased from Seattle in early May.

First let’s deal with Joely Rodriguez. The Phillies acquired Rodriquez from the Pirates for Antonio Bastardo. He struggled as a starting pitcher and was designated for assignment at the end of the season, but went unclaimed on waivers and stayed in the Phillies system. After starting off poorly in 2016, he was demoted to Clearwater. He came back with increased velocity and command and dominated his way back up through Reading and Lehigh Valley, and eventually earned a callup in September. This year, Rodriguez saw a 1-2 mph drop in velocity (he seems to have regained that during his last few appearances) and he struggled to miss bats. Rodriguez has never been a big strikeout pitcher, but he was able to offset a high walk rate with home run suppression and a high ground ball rate. He still was able to keep the ball on the ground this year, but his home run rate spiked and with extra men on base he had no chance. Given that the Phillies are weak in left handed pitchers, Joely Rodriguez might want to stick around if he makes it through waivers, but with this being his second DFA he can elect free agency if he wants.

Fien first came up to the majors with the Tigers in 2009. The Phillies are his 9th organization (he did not appear in the majors for all of them) and he is already 33 years old. He has appeared in 299 games with a career 4.29 ERA. He had a couple solid years with the Minnesota Twins, with the last one coming in 2015. He bounced between the Twins and Dodgers last year, before starting 2017 with the Mariners where he posted a 15.00 ERA in 6 innings. Fien is exactly what you would expect. He throws in the mid 90s, averaging about 94mph with his fastball. He mixes in a cutter and curveball. He is a low ground ball/high fly ball pitcher with a career 33% ground ball rate. It looks like when his command is on, he is a serviceable middle reliever, but over the past year he has been mostly the 7th guy in a bullpen, bouncing between teams and the minors.

What this means for the Phillies is that Adam Morgan is here to stay unless the Phillies want to field an all right handed pitching staff. Morgan showed the highest velocity of his career last night, but was ultimately not very effective with it. He lacks the breaking ball to be an effective LOOGY, so he mostly is cast as an extra arm you don’t feel confident in. The Phillies could still go with Hoby Milner at some point, but he would not have been available tonight following 2.1 innings last night. Milner has put up gaudy numbers in AAA, but he profiles as a LOOGY in the majors due to his lack of velocity and deceptive delivery. The Phillies also did not promote Pat Venditte who does have the advantage of being half left handed, but his stuff is marginal enough that he looks like an inferior option to Fien. This also holds of the promotion of the two most promising arms with Lehigh Valley in Ricardo Pinto and Jesen Therrien. Both have under 5 relief appearances in Lehigh Valley and could use the extra time. Overall an unexciting move, but with how bad Joely has been there wasn’t a lot worse the Phillies could do.

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9 comments

  1. Mike Fassano

    June 08, 2017 04:58 PM

    I have stood up for the Phillies when other fans have suggested that they were “TANKING”. No more, I’m a believer now!

    • Steve

      June 09, 2017 10:14 AM

      What is your definition of tanking?
      The article pretty clearly states why Milner, Therrien, and Pinto were not called up. The author also states that Fien is a more reliable choice that Vindette, and I will defer to his knowledge and experience. Which RP would you like them to promote?

      • Mike Fassano

        June 09, 2017 10:59 AM

        Pedro Beatto ERA 1.91 with 18 saves. At 30 years of age, I know he’s not part of the future, but neither is Casey Fien at 33 years.

  2. Mike Fassano

    June 09, 2017 10:08 AM

    I know the game of baseball well, but unlike you I’m not around the players and locker room as you are. For this reason I trust your judgement better than my own. It may look like hindsight now, but believe me, I was screaming for the Phillies not to sign the second “professional hitter”. I was okay with Kendrick because of his ability to play second base. Maybe it’s a story for another day, but I don’t see Hernandez as part of the future. For my two cents, he has talent, but is a knucklehead who lacks baseball instincts (Lonnie Smith). Kingery has the whole package, and I knew it the first time that I saw him play.
    I digress. Getting back to the second professional hitter, I thought that the Phillies already had that player in Altherr, Quinn, Williams, Cozens, or even Cam Perkins.
    Here’s my dilemma; why exactly was Roman Quinn sent down? I never bought the Phillies excuse for a second that “We want to see if he can stay healthy for an entire season”. They could have just as easily seen that at CBP, as they could Lehigh. Before his current (hopefully minor) injury, Quinn played about 50 games. His OBP is a couple of ticks higher than Hernandez. AND he has baseball instincts.

    • Steve

      June 09, 2017 10:22 AM

      While i dont like what i have seen from Saunders either, is the signing really that big of a deal? If he was taking time away from Herrera or Altherr i would agree, but he is not. No one really expected Altherr to have this much success, so Saunders and Kendrick were brought in for insurance, and thats exactly how he is being used right now.
      Is he an expensive 4th OF/bench bat? Yes, but who cares on a team with no payroll concerns and no chance of contending.
      It wouldnt help Williams Quinn or Cozens to fill that role though. They need regular reps, wether it be in Philly or Lehigh. Im sure the Phillies will be looking to move Kendrick if he continues to hit, and at that point it will be time to give one of the MiLB guys(probably Williams) a chance to start every day in the Majors. Hopefully, that player takes the job and never looks back. If they falter horribly, Saunders is fall back option, and we try again next year.

  3. Kurdt Kobeyn

    June 09, 2017 11:22 AM

    i don’t like McPhail-Klentak’s “vanilla” approach since he joined the Phils. Any GM in his position would handle the Ken Giles trade is almost the similar way so i will not give him a high score for that. The rest of his moves seemed to be minimal to almost no effect changes that appears like band aid approach. For a team that has resources and only focus is to acquire and develop talent – McPhail-Klentak seem to approach things will with no foresight in the future. John Hart-John Coppollela and AJ Preller are stockpiling talents in the same amount of time McPhail-Klentak are in the Phils.

    The RP and MLB journeyman re-thread carousel, the lack of aggresiveness in the international front, lack of creativity in making deals all of that paints exactly the boring picture of the McPhail-Klentak regime.

    • Romus

      June 09, 2017 03:49 PM

      There may be one consolation. Middleton is not like his predecessors and will not let his Pres/GM hang on for 5/7 years steeped in mediocrity on. the field..
      I can see, if there is no progress in the standings, by end of year 2019, ie playing in August for at least a wild-card spot, …then a new regime comes in for the 2020 season.
      Colorado is the latest team to seem to be turning it around…they languished for four straight years of 68/70 wins. And now they are in the mix for play-off contention in the NL-West.

      • Steve

        June 10, 2017 09:25 AM

        I agree progress needs to be shown by Klantak et al. But 2019 seems soon.
        He took two highschoolers with his first two first round picks, we really need to see how they develop, as well as Kingry, before we can judge the FO. If Randolph and Moniak are progressing, Kingry is in the Majors and Klentak has decent success with the heralded FA class of 2018, I think he will be given some leash, even if we dont make a wildcard.

  4. Paul

    June 09, 2017 12:06 PM

    I said this back in late spring training, when the last reliever spot was in question, and I’ll say it again: Bring. Up. Venditte.

    He is 6-0 (!) with a 1.13 ERA. His stats are killer as both a righty and lefty this year, but as a righty he has a high walk rate and very low BABIP, so I’d probably limit his appearances to be mostly as a LOOGY, although he can still pitch to righties when needed. This makes him a unique LOOGY+ with 1-inning potential, rather than the typical 1- or 2-batter appearance.

    He’s 32, so he won’t necessarily be on the Phillies next contender, but for this year, I don’t think he can do anything but improve this year’s bullpen (not that that’s saying much). He’d certainly be a good LHP replacement over career -2.2 WAA (and declining) Adam Morgan.

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