As surprising as it may seem, the Phillies are still tied for the second Wild Card spot. Even after countless blown leads in late innings, failure to hit with runners in scoring position and at one point, a historically bad rotation, the Phillies are very much in the hunt. While the standings may be what they are, the Phillies have still looked uninspiring lately. The team recently dropped two of three to both the Diamondbacks and White Sox, both bad teams.
Losses to lackluster teams are bound to happen, but the manner in which the Phillies are losing games is demoralizing to say the least. Even with all the star acquisitions this past off-season, the Phillies are still coming up short with runners in scoring position. Even after the team went out and upgraded the rotation, the team is losing games due to lack of offense.
To be quite blunt, the Phillies are not going anywhere if they continue to hit like they have been. If a hobbled Jake Arrieta dogs out a start like he did in Arizona, that game is a must win. Pitching is clearly not this team’s strength, so the offense deserves the majority of the blame for recent results.
While the offense may be worthy of criticism, the bullpen is still arguably the most shaky area of the roster. Injuries to veterans have crushed the Phillies all season and as a result, the club has had to turn to inexperienced rookies in key situations. This was on display the other night, when Ranger Suarez allowed a couple walks and eventually blew the lead. Needless to say, lack of bullpen depth has been a bludgeon with which critics have used to hammer away at Matt Klentak all season.
In response to the need, Twins cast offs Blake Parker and Mike Morin have recently joined the bullpen. Parker has late inning experience, so it is hard to envision him going anywhere even though he has allowed runs in each of his last two outings. Morin was touched up to the tune of 4 runs over 6 hits in an outing against the White Sox, but has pitched well other than that.
Despite recently adding two relievers, it is still entirely possible that Klentak is not done shopping. August trades may be a thing of the past, but a slew of MLB experienced relievers have recently been DFA’d. If adding a reliever is still on the agenda, names are available. Here are five relievers the Phillies could take a look at.
Kyle Barraclough, RHP
Kyle Barraclough was recently DFA’d by the Nationals following a dismal showing in 2019. Barraclough pitched to a horrific ERA of 6.66 (6.57 FIP) over 25.2 innings pitched while allowing nine long balls.
However, Barraclough was solid from 2015-17, never recording an FIP above 3.70. He also has 11 saves under his belt, albeit he has been limited in that role. Still, on a team as depleted as the Phillies, Barraclough could be a solid bounce back candidate. Anything close to his pre-2019 numbers would make him one of the most successful relievers in the pen.
Though Barraclough has been disappointing this season, he is only owed $510K over the rest of the year and is controllable through 2021. That type of control coupled with Barraclough’s past success and relative youth (29) makes a claim seem likely. Players of Barraclough’s quality will be at a premium with the elimination of August trades, so the chances of the righty joining the Phillies are slim.
Greg Holland, RHP
Greg Holland was DFA’d by the Diamondbacks yesterday in order to make room for Blake Swihart. Though far removed from his days with the Royals, Holland has still proven to be relatively effective as he approaches his mid 30’s. After a tough stretch with St. Louis to start 2018, Holland bounced back with the Nats and pitched to an ERA of 2.84 over 21.1 innings.
2019 has not been great to the three time All Star, but it certainly could be much worse. Through 35.2 innings, Holland has pitched to an ERA of 4.54 (4.76 FIP) and has racked up 17 saves. That said, things have been trending in the wrong direction for Holland. He has struggled with command since late June and has not pitched well. However, with hardly any late inning relievers in the bullpen, it is hard not to see Holland being a target for the Phillies if he were to clear waivers. If the team is able to claim him, he is owed roughly $650K through the rest of the season along with a series of performance bonuses.
Adalberto Mejia, LHP
Former Twins prospect Adalberto Mejia was recently DFA’d by the Cardinals, his third team of the year. 2019 has been a struggle for Mejia, who has walked 14 over 22.2 innings. He has also allowed 19 earned runs and three long balls in that span.
Given his track record, it is hard to see how Mejia is a fit for the Phillies. The only thing that could make sense would be depth upgrade in the bullpen, as Ranger Suarez and Austin Davis, the teams “reserve” left-handed relievers” if you will, have delivered shaky results when called upon.
The 26 year-old Mejia is out of options, so if he were claimed, he could not be sent down without clearing waivers.
Trevor Rosenthal, RHP
Like Greg Holland, Trevor Rosenthal is a former above average, late inning reliever who isn’t himself anymore. After an elbow injury abbreviated his 2017 and forced the righty to miss all of 2018, he has since returned to action this season and produced abysmal results.
Across 14.2 innings between the Nationals and Tigers, Rosenthal has allowed 21 earned runs over 14.2 innings. The former Cardinal – who recorded 40+ saves in both 2014 and 15 – also allowed a horrifying 24 walks in that span. On the plus side, he’s still topping 98 on the radar gun and has shown he can still mass bats.
But given his current command struggles, it is tough to see Rosenthal making sense for a team looking to make a stretch run. If the Phillies were to sign him (he’ll almost certainly clear waivers), it would be for his closer experience. Sometimes acquiring reliable MLB relievers is a crap shoot, and Rosenthal might be an interesting option given his track record and limited sample size in 2019.
Nate Karns, RHP
Perhaps the most intriguing name on this list is right-hander Nate Karns. Recently DFA’d and later released by Baltimore, Karns at one point looked like a promising MLB starter. Karns pitched to an ERA of 3.67 over 147 innings with Tampa Bay back in 2015. After that solid campaign, the righty was included in a multi-player swap with the Mariners that included Brad Miller. 2016 was not as kind to Karns, who found himself demoted to the bullpen by season’s end.
He was then traded to the Royals where he was shut down with an elbow injury in early 2017. After undergoing surgery, Karns did not pitch at the major league level in 2018.
In 2019, Karns has thrown a little over 10 innings in rehab appearances as well as 5.1 at the major league level with the Orioles. 32 in November, Karns has hardly pitched in 2019, making him somewhat of a mystery. With a strong MLB track record and extensive experience as a starter, Karns could be a solid fit for the Phillies.