Phillies Mailbag: Suarez, Williams and Trading Segura, Others?
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag! Each week we take your questions and answer them on the air during The Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Send your questions to us at any time on Twitter at @FrankKlose.
What is different for Ranger Suarez this year? Is he throwing a certain pitch more?
I think that the biggest thing for Ranger Suarez is that he is healthy and on the active roster. It's almost too easy to remember the Suarez that was rushed to the big leagues for starts in 2018. But Suarez is just 25 years old and finally coming into his own, currently 3-1 with an 0.71 earned run average in 14 games in 2021.
First, we must not forget the Ranger Suarez of 2019. He was very effective out of the bullpen. In 37 games, Suarez was 6-1 with a 3.14 earned run average. This was as a starter thrown into a struggling bullpen. He came up big.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit Suarez's career pretty hard. In Spring Training 2020 before the MLB and the world shut down, Suarez was poised to perhaps win the fifth starter job. In three Spring starts before the shutdown, Suarez had a 2.25 earned run average, pitching better than Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to that point.
Then COVID hit Suarez personally. Right as Summer Camp began in 2020, Suarez was placed on the COVID-related Injured List. Suarez did not really have the opportunity to recover, as he was unable to throw during quarantine. He did make three September appearances, but without the opportunity to rehab in the minor leagues, he just did not have it, allowing nine earned runs in four innings over three appearances.
How badly could that 2020 bullpen have used Suarez?
Then in Spring Training, Suarez was not present, due to visa issues. Then he arrived late but had a quadriceps injury. Finally healthy, Suarez joined the bullpen after having the opportunity to get ready during the Alternate Site period after Spring Training.
The defining moment for me came against Miami on May 27. Suarez entered with the bases loaded and no outs. Showing great poise, Suarez seemed to just get down to business. Only one of those runners inherited from Spencer Howard scored as Suarez got three quick outs. The Phillies won that game, largely because of Suarez.
Suarez became the "piggyback" for both Velasquez and Howard, and gave the club three three-inning scoreless outings that meant a lot to the Phillies won-loss record.
Where does he go from here? That remains to be seen. I think the Spencer Howard starter experiment might come to an end soon. Either Suarez or Bailey Falter could join the starting rotation. Or, they can ride the hot hand and keep Suarez in the bullpen.
But to directly answer your question: I think he showed great promise in 2019 before COVID knocked him down. I think he's developed incredible poise on the mound and just goes about his business, not getting rattled. He can hit 95 on the radar gun and has some nice movement. I'm really interested to see how he does as he continues to be seen around the league.
What do you think Luke Williams has to do to earn a role as an every day player on next year’s roster? Do you think it’s possible? Is he just a utility player? Or do you think he’ll cool off and get sent back down?
I think the Phillies made a pretty big step when they promoted not only Luke Williams but also Matt Vierling. Both players missed the 2020 season because there simply was no minor league season. But what set them apart from the other minor leaguers is that in the last couple Spring Trainings, both players got some opportunities to play late in games. They left an impression.
What makes Williams so impressive is that he is a truly versatile defender. How many players make their first four major league starts at four different positions? Make that center field, third base, shortstop and second base. Let's not forget that in his first start in center field he moved to third base in a double-switch.
I think for sure that Williams is bound to cool down with the bat. Eventually the league will know his strengths and weaknesses after they have a larger sample size. But I really like his (again I'm using the word) poise. His energy. I think he belongs.
I would not, however, give him a starting job. As you've seen from the injuries the Phillies have had, there will be lots of opportunity to play for a 26th man. The Phillies are better with Williams playing around the diamond.
When are they gonna realize they need to start selling. The investment they made was poorly thought out.
Is Segura tradeable given the DL? He seems like a perfect candidate to sell high without it being a rebuild.
The Phillies remain about a .500 team after almost three full months of play. But I do not think this team will sell. It's easy to say that the roster is "poorly thought out", but we have two different architects here: Matt Klentak, and since December, Dave Dombrowski.
The Phillies have Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, J.T. Realmuto, and hopefully Bryce Harper in their prime right now. They have a hot (but injured) Jean Segura. It's really hard to just "sell". I think the Phillies will hang around and above the .500 mark just enough to stay close enough in it.
And I would expect Dombrowski to add complementary pieces that do not cost so much to give this group, as constructed, the best chance to win. The Phillies will not trade any of their top prospects to do so, and right now they probably can't add a lot of money either. So they'll have to be shrewd.
A major overhaul, including maybe trading Didi Gregorius or Jean Segura, would be more likely in the offseason. 2021 is the last year on both players' contracts.
Hector Neris, Archie Bradley, Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera will be free agents after the season. If the Phillies go 10-30 between now and the trade deadline, they could move some from this group. But there's not a lot to be had.
But I think it's more likely the Phillies hang in there and try to overtake the Mets, who just lost another starter to major injury. Jerad Eickhoff is now in the Mets rotation, and they have a ton of doubleheaders coming up. There's an opportunity to strike.