Phillies Have Some In-House Options to Fix Their Bullpen
Fixing the Phillies bullpen will be no easy task for Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombroski and general manager Sam Fuld this offseason.
The team has tried for years to throw money at their bullpen problem, bringing in veterans on one-year prove it deals, trading for veteran arms, but none of them have worked.
So they need to fix the bullpen again. But they do have options.
They can't go out and buy a new bullpen, so they are going to need some in-house options, starting with 26-year old Seranthony Dominguez. Dominguez missed 14 months after undergoing the Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery last July and threw one inning in the team's season finale this season, striking out one batter.
He had a promising start to his big league career, with 16 saves, a 2.95 ERA, and 74 strikeouts in 58 innings, and an impressive 0.931 WHIP as a 23-year old rookie. His sophomore season wasn't nearly as effective, pitching in only 24.2 innings in 2019, with a 4.01 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
He didn't pitch at all in 2020 after the Tommy John surgery and missed all but one game in 2021.
He could be a big in-house addition to the Phillies bullpen in 2022.
Another in-house candidate is Connor Brogdon.
He is a young arm with plenty of potential. The 26-year-old was limited to 56 games in 2021, posting a solid 3.43 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts in 57.2 innings, missing time with a right groin strain and right elbow tendinitis.
He flashed in 2020 in nine appearances, with a 3.97 ERA, 0.88 WHIP with 17 strikeouts in just 11.1 innings of work.
With Dominguez and Brogdon, the Phillies have two solid options for the seventh and eighth innings in 2022.
They should consider bringing back Hector Neris and using him in a role similar to the one he was used during the second half of the season. After being removed from the role of the closer, he was brilliant.
In 74 total games, Neris finished the season with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 74.1 innings this season. He struck out 98 batters he faced this season.
Neris is set to become a free agent.
Another free agent is Archie Bradley, and if the team can get him to come back on a team-friendly deal, they should probably consider that. The 29-year old posted a 3.71 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts, and two saves in 51 innings this season.
What they will need to spend money on is someone to close out games in 2022.
There are free agent options starting with 31-year old Raisel Iglesias, who pitched for the Angels in 2021.
The 31-year old had 34 saves and posted a 2.61 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 101 strikeouts over 69 innings.
Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen are two other names that are available in free agency.
Kimbrel ended the season in the deep White Sox pen but was closing games before he got there for the Cubs and nailed down 24 saves (23 for Cubs, 1 for White Sox) in Chicago. He did not pitch as well when he was not in the role of the closer for the White Sox.
For the Cubs, he was dominant. He had a 0.49 ERA and 64/13 K/BB ratio in 36 2/3 innings this season with 23 saves before the trade.
The 34-year old Jansen was excellent, posting a 2.23 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 86 strikeouts over 68 2/3 innings while going 38-for-43 in save chances.
If the Phillies can add one of those three, plus Dominguez, Brogdon, and Neris, they have the makings of a solid pen without having to take a flyer on an older washed-up arm in the free-agent market.
It will be interesting to see what they do with Ranger Suarez after he dazzled in 12 starts this season after starting the year in the bullpen, even saving four games along the way.
The team could send him back to the pen to add another quality arm and give a starting spot to Hans Crouse, or they could go with Suarez in the starting rotation. He had an amazing season, with a 1 .36 ERA in 106 innings between his 12 starts and 27 relief appearances, and allowed a total of just 20 runs all season.