Phillies Mailbag: Closer Role, Fifth Starter, Trade Options
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. We take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Tune in Tuesday afternoons to see if we have answered your question.
Will The Phillies eventually pick one guy to be The Closer? And who would it be?
Well, I don't think that the Phillies will necessarily settle on a "closer". But to me, there is a clear relief ace on this team. That would be lefty Jose Alvarado.
The latest injury update on MLB.com has Alvarado headed to a rehab assignment relatively soon. Alvarado has been throwing and is working his way back from elbow inflammation. Hopefully he will re-emerge in the next week or two.
The Phillies are going by pitching matchups, still. That means the Phillies will match the opposing hitters with the best relief option. That could mean that Alvarado gets numbers 4, 5 and 6 that features a tough lefty hitter in the opposing lineup in the eighth inning, while someone else gets batters 7, 8, and 9 in the ninth.
Dating back to May 7, the Phillies have had just two saves. One went to Craig Kimbrel. The other was Matt Strahm, on the day that we learned Alvarado was headed to the injured list.
That might underscore why it's not that imperative that someone have the title.
I see Alvarado, Kimbrel, and hopefully Seranthony Dominguez getting save opportunities in the future.
Who is going to emerge as the fifth starter for this team?
Well, James, I wish I had an answer for you. But I do not think that the Phillies themselves have an answer. With the demotion of Bailey Falter, injury to Andrew Painter, injury to potential starter Nick Nelson, and underwhelming performance at Triple-A by Cristopher Sanchez and Michael Plassmeyer, the answer has not been clear.
The Phillies picked up starter Dylan Covey on waivers to try to stop the bleeding. He will not start today, but take the bulk of the innings after Matt Strahm tries to get the tough lefties at the top of the Diamondbacks lineup out. They seem to figure the less Covey faces the likes of Corbin Carroll, the better.
But it's not a long-term solution.
I remember once upon a time the Phillies claimed pitcher Paul Byrd on waivers to start in a rotation hole. He ended up stepping up and making a very nice major league career for himself after that. Maybe the Phillies will get lucky again.
That's my question too, obviously a starting pitcher. Trade a prospect or two to a team out of contention?
The problem with this is that there are not a whole lot of teams who would be considered out of contention right now. Consider the Arizona Diamondbacks, whom the Phillies are facing right now. They were picked to be fourth place or fifth place by most before the season began. At 28-20, they are far from being considered out of contention.
Baltimore? Three games up in the first wild card. Pittsburgh? Tied for first place.
At this point, I can only find Oakland, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Colorado who might be considered "out of contention". Even then, are they ready to pull the plug this early? We might not find a seller until much closer to the trade deadline.
One team I might look at would be the Boston Red Sox. Right now they are at about seven starting pitchers once Garrett Whitlock is activated from the injured list this week. Nick Pivetta is currently in the bullpen and someone else will have to join him once Whitlock is back in the fold.
However, the Red Sox are looking for major league pieces they can use to contend as they are very much still in the race. What major league-ready pieces do the Phillies have to trade? That would make it difficult to match up on a trade.