Phillies Mailbag: Bullpen, Howard, Galvis
It is time once again for a Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions about the Philadelphia Phillies and answer them right here. Ask a question anytime to @FrankKlose on Twitter.
Have the Phillies ever had a bullpen this bad? What does this mean for the future?
The Phillies bullpen certainly did not look too good this past weekend against the New York Mets. The Phillies opened the series Thursday, and after Adam Morgan allowed three runs in five innings, the bullpen gave up four more. Jeremy Hellickson was not too strong on Friday, but the bullpen surrender four more after he departed. The Phillies almost blew a 10-run lead Saturday, allowing four earned runs after Alec Asher departed, and then on Sunday starter Jake Thompson departed the game down 3-0. The Phillies bullpen would go on to allow 14 more runs in an embarrassing Phillies loss.
A lot of this has to do with the situation the Phillies find themselves in down the stretch: short on starters. The Phillies have already shut down Vince Velasquez and lost Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin to injury. Of the starters that remain, the Phillies are watching pitch counts on Thompson, while Asher and Morgan are getting starts mostly due to the overwhelming need. So, the end result is that the bulllpen is overworked.
I felt that Asher could have given the Phillies another inning or two, having thrown just 75 pitches before the inning in which he allowed four earned runs. But Thompson seems tagged for only four or five innings a game, and Morgan is not going to give a team five or six more runs. So, the Phillies are turning more and more to relievers that have no real future with the Phillies.
Jeanmar Gomez is finally starting to leak oil after saving 37 games. The next-best reliever for much of the season, Hector Neris, remains a mostly-steady force. But he cannot be expected to pitch a scoreless outing every time. Neris has appeared in 77 games, just one game shy of pitching in half of the Phillies' games this season. That is too much.
So, the Phillies are throwing anyone and everyone out there, including some names you may never see in a Phillies uniform again. Phil Klein. Patrick Schuster. Frank Herrmann. Colton Murray. I would not be shocked to see the Phillies remove all of these players from the 40-man roster this offseason. But for now, they will get regular work. Luis Garcia could also be an offseason cut and David Hernandez probably will not be re-signed.
The Phillies will try again this offseason to add some veteran arms to stabilize the bullpen. Their starters will go deeper in games, hopefully. Combined, the Phillies will not be this bad.
Do you think that Ryan Howard will get a chance to play in 2017? Would you rate Ryan Howard as the best first baseman in club history?
I think that Ryan Howard still has some value to a team in 2016. As long as a player can hit a home run, someone will give him a shot. The question is what kind of opportunity might he get.
Howard is 30th in the league in home runs with 23. With 313 at bats, he has far fewer than anyone else on the list of the top 30. Of the 23 home runs, 22 have been against right-handed pitchers. That may be what gets Howard a job in 2017.
Should Howard be willing to take a minor-league deal and invitation to Spring Training, I am sure someone would give Howard the opportunity to come to camp. The question would be more about whether or not Howard, who has earned plenty of money in his career, would be willing to fight for a job. A team bringing Howard on would have much less of a commitment to Howard than the last few years with the Phillies.
Jimmy Rollins settled for such a deal in 2017 and made the White Sox after a strong Spring Training. But ultimately, Rollins was released and probably has played his last days in baseball as he works as a television analyst. Howard could suffer the same fate if he struggles.
But looking into the Phillies history, they have had some big names to play at first base. Jimmie Foxx, Dick Allen, Jim Thome, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose. None of them have had the longevity with the club that Howard has. Foxx stopped by for a year. Allen also spent time at third base. Thome was traded to the White Sox just three years into his contract and Perez was also just a one-year deal.
Rose and Howard are the only two that have won World Series in Philadelphia.
Howard made his Major League debut for the Phillies in 2004 and all these years later will close his Phillies career on Sunday, after 380 home runs, 1187 runs batted in, and an .895 OPS. Howard will finish his Phillies career with a Rookie of the Year Award, a National League MVP Award, five division titles, a National League Title, and a World Series victory.
I think it is fair to say that Howard is the best first baseman in Phillies history.
Does Freddy Galvis have a future with the Phillies?
Freddy Galvis is having an interesting season. Galvis has hit with power - having hit 20 home runs so far - but has failed to hit for average or get on base at an acceptable level. Galvis is batting just .243 with a .275 on base percentage. Home runs or not - that is not good enough of a bat for the majors.
Granted, Galvis has one major thing going for him: a solid glove. As our Brandon Apter of Sports Talk Philly noted, Galvis is really in contention for a Rawlings National League Gold Glove award. Defensive statistics that matter: UZR, fielding percentage and dWAR all place Galvis close to the top among shortstops. That will keep Galvis in the Major Leagues for a while.
The only thing that will keep Galvis from being the starting Phillies shortstop in 2017 is the emergence of J.P. Crawford. Crawford regressed in his development some in 2016, and I think it is really reasonable to think that Crawford opens the 2017 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. So, Galvis will likely be the starting shortstop for the Phillies in 2017. After that, a lot remains to be seen.
Many thought that Galvis could occupy second base for the Phillies down the line. But with second baseman Cesar Hernandez getting on base at a near .400 clip in the second half, the Phillies may have found their leadoff hitter. Considering Hernandez is playing a solid second base, the Phillies may be very hesitant to take second base away from him. But, before starting, Galvis was a valuable utility player and could be once again.
So, to answer your question: I think Galvis remains at shortstop to open 2016. After Crawford proves he belongs in the big leagues, he will displace Galvis at shortstop. At that point, the Phillies will evaluate Galvis and Hernandez and decide who is best-suited for the second base position. Whoever loses that battle will be a utility player for the Phillies.
Really, there will be room for Galvis, but if he wants a starting job, he will need more than simply hitting home runs.