Tommy Hunter and the 8 Man Bullpen

Another day, another reliever contract for the Phillies. Yesterday the Phillies reportedly agreed to a 2 year $18M deal with free agent right hander Tommy Hunter.  The 31 year old Hunter has been an effective reliever for many year, but last year went to a new level with the Tampa Bay Rays as his strikeout rate shot up. Hunter started throwing his fastball less and harder while at the same time throwing more of his cutter which was around 94 instead of it’s previous 90. With his K% up over 10% on 2016, Hunter was able to post a 2.61 ERA on the season.

Hunter on his own is a solid addition. He isn’t a closer, and he probably isn’t a set up guy for the Phillies, but he should give Gabe Kapler another mid innings arm. This brings us to something that Matt Gelb mentioned yesterday. The Phillies are strongly thinking about going with an 8 man bullpen. In general I am opposed to 8 man bullpens because they leave a team’s bench a bit thin, but in this case the Phillies’ personnel was already leaning heavy towards this strategy. Continue reading…

Phillies Bring Back Pat Neshek and Other Winter Meeting Rumblings

The big news in the baseball world over the past few days is the Phillies bringing back right handed reliever Pat Neshek on what is reportedly a 2 year $16M deal with a team option for a 3rd year. Neshek was the Phillies lone All-Star last year before being traded to Colorado for Jose Gomez, J.D. Hammer, and Alejandro Requena at the deadline. Between the two teams Neshek pitched 62.1 innings with a 1.59 ERA. This deal covers Neshek’s age 37 and 38 seasons, but he has also been very good into his 30s which alleviates some of the concerns. The Phillies won’t be counting on Neshek to repeat his 2017 season, nor are they getting him to be their closer, but the move helps stabilize a Phillies bullpen on the rise. Neshek will rejoin the bullpen core of Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos as well as 2017 breakouts Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia. As of right now it looks like Hoby Milner will join them with the last spot either being filled with another FA acquisition or an internal option like Victor Arano, Yacksel Rios, Ricardo Pinto, or any other starter moving to the bullpen. It isn’t an elite level bullpen, but if Garcia and Morgan can repeat their 2017 seasons, it has the upside to be very good. This might end up a bit of a monetary overpay, but Neshek was very good last year and liked his time with the Phillies, and even if it goes south the Phillies have solidified up the late innings. Continue reading…

MLB Non-Tender Deadline

By 8pm ET today teams must choose whether to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players (and pre-arbitration eligible players). For some teams today is about what they can afford to keep on their roster, but the Phillies only have Odubel Herrera on their roster with a guaranteed contract. This means today is about the 40 man roster and what players the Phillies want to make some level of commitment to. Here are the players affected by today’s decisions as well as MLBTradeRumor’s estimated arbitration salary.

  • Freddy Galvis – $7.4M (Arb 3)
  • Cesar Hernandez – $4.7M (Arb 2, Super 2)
  • Cameron Rupp – $2.1M (Arb 1)
  • Luis Garcia – $1.4M (Arb 1)
  • Maikel Franco – $3.6M (Arb 1, Super 2)

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 44 – The Best Phillies Rotation

This week was a quiet one if you weren’t Jerry Dipoto despite it being the GM’s meetings. So with that, some questions.

@MichaelStubel: You’re tasked with putting together a rotation comprised of Phillies starters from the post-integration era. Who makes the cut?

I laid some rules for this exercise before starting.

  • The pitcher had to spend some of their prime with the Phillies, I couldn’t use Pedro’s prime just because he was on the 2009 Phillies.
  • I was looking for an average prime era season from the pitcher, not just a one year outlier.
  • I get the pitcher vs the batters of their era. I didn’t want to figure out Robin Roberts vs 2010’s era batters.

My first search was to find the top single season pitcher bWAR for Phillies pitchers to get a list of candidates. Then to remove innings as a driver I sorted it by ERA+ as well to get a list of candidates: Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Roy Halladay, Jim Bunning, Cliff Lee, Chris Short, Cole Hamels, and Curt Schilling. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Cameron Rupp

I don’t know whether it feels like Cameron Rupp has been around forever or just a little bit of time. the 2017 season marked, Rupp’s 5th in the majors, but he only played a combined 22 games in his first two seasons. What it does mean is that the 29 year old will enter the offseason arbitration eligible for the first time in his career. Rupp has been somewhere between the Phillies starting catcher and leader of a tandem for the past 3 seasons. Over that time he has hit .236/.301/.417 in just over 1000 plate appearances. He has shown good power, and this year nearly doubled his 2016 walk rate. Yet, we enter the offseason with Rupp on the outside look in at two younger catchers taking his job. Why?

We can start with the offense. In 2015 and 2016, Cameron Rupp was a 3 true outcomes catcher with large platoon splits. Things went even more extreme during the 2017 season. Rupp’s walk rate did nearly double from 5.7% to 10.3%, but his strikeout rate also skyrocketed. Among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances, his strikeout rate of 34.4% was 8th highest in the majors. Against right handed pitchers, he struck out at a staggering 36.9% of the time. As for his platoon split, after years of wrecking LHPs (.915 OPS and .993 OPS), he was merely ok against them this season with a .839 OPS. Rupp has never hit righties well, and in addition to the walk strikeout rate, he only hit .195 off of them this season. Put it all together and Rupp’s 88 OPS+ was a big step back from his 2016 season. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 43: Missing Doc

We lost a legend this week. As I’m sure you’re aware, Roy Halladay, the greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen, died in a plane crash on Tuesday. He was only 40. And while the baseball world mourns his death, including here at the site, it’s important to remember that, even as we lost Doc, his children and his wife lost Dad. For us, the loss is still personal; he was our idol, our hero, but we saw him from afar. So let’s remember the Halladay family and keep them in your thoughts, as they’re living a nightmare.

It would be fitting to memorialize Doc here with statistics, to definitively show that he’s the best pitcher of his generation and one of the greatest ever, but you already know that. So in the spirit of the Crash Bag, I’m going to share a personal story about Doc. Continue reading…

Doc

Roy Halladay died today. It’s a crushing blow to his family, all his friends in Colorado, Florida, Toronto, and Philadelphia, as well as the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations. It doesn’t really matter that Roy Halladay was one of the best pitchers who ever lived – there’s a plaque in Cooperstown that will go up someday to tell you all about it. The legacy that Roy Halladay leaves behind, at least in the public sphere, is of his work ethic, humility, and spirit.

Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Ty Kelly

Ty Kelly was not the most heralded addition to the 2017 roster. In fact, we didn’t really trade for him; it was more that we bought him from Toronto for cash. I don’t know how much “cash considerations” generally is, but I think it’s an insignificant sum.

And Kelly is a relatively insignificant player in the landscape of the MLB. He entered the season a borderline Major Leaguer and played all of one plate appearance with the Mets. He was then designated for assignment and claimed by the Blue Jays where he accrued exactly zero plate appearances. Four days later he was on the Phillies, replacing the injured Aaron Nola.

So after spending eight years in the minors and a cup of coffee with the Mets last year, he was playing for the third team of the season on April 22. He had that quality, a certain Chris Coste ness you might say, that made him, along with Brock Stassi, easy to root for. Unfortunately, like Stassi, Kelly looked the part of a career minor leaguer. He posted a 53 wRC+ in 103 PAs and negative-0.2 fWAR. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 41: Pitch Framing and Managing

I didn’t get many questions this week (I guess people are more interested in the World Series in the Phillies managerial search. Go figure), so I’ll just do something of a deep dive on the topics I was asked about.

@robertdalton52: How much of a difference does pitch framing make? Do the umps call strikes and balls based upon pitcher/catcher, and batter reputations?

The first part of this question is somewhat well-tread ground in sabermetrics. Pitch framing was always thought to be somewhat valuable, like blocking pitches, but research indicated that the overall spread in pitch framing value added was actually more on the order of wins than runs. According to Baseball Prospectus, the top pitch framer last year was Tyler Flowers, who produced 25.1 runs, or roughly two and a half wins, above average, while the worst surprisingly was former framing superstar Jonathan Lucroy at -17.7 runs. So the spread there was more than four wins. Continue reading…

2017 Phillies Report Card: Vince Velasquez

When the Phillies traded Ken Giles to Houston in exchange for Vince Velasquez and other pieces, they were supposed to be acquiring a long term rotation piece. Within the first month of his 2016 season, it looked like they had actually acquired an ace. The rest of Velasquez’s year did not go to script, and he entered 2017 looking to make improvements on the mound and more importantly staying healthy on it.

During the 2017 season, Velasquez only started 15 games and pitched 72 innings. He first missed time with a right flexor muscle strain, and then with a vascular injury in his right middle finger. Neither injury necessarily has a long term impact on Velasquez’s ability to pitch in 2018, and while the injuries have been concerning, they aren’t career ending. In 2017, only 75 pitchers pitched 150 innings. While, it would be nice if Velasquez could be a 200 inning pitcher, if he can pitch 140-150 innings a year, he has value as a starter. Continue reading…