Remaining free-agent relievers with qualities the Phillies could use


The Phillies added a lot of velocity to their bullpen this offseason and rightfully so. They needed more bat-missers in high-leverage situations. Beyond having the majors’ highest ERA, WHIP, opponents’ batting average, OBP and slugging percentage, the Phillies’ 2020 bullpen ranked 27th in strikeouts.

With Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado and a full season of Connor Brogdon, the strikeout rate should rise. Something that would make it even better is a unique look, a pitcher similar to Pat Neshek or Darren O’Day, who signed a one-year contract with the Yankees worth less than $2.5 million.

Having different looks in a bullpen is important. If you have exclusively hard-throwing right-handers who go fastball-slider, you won’t disrupt your opponent’s timing as much as if the next reliever contrasts the last. Think of a hitter facing a finesse righty after seeing three 97 mph two-seamers from the lefty Alvarado in his previous at-bat. 

O’Day would have been a good fit in that regard and there are still a few relievers left who’d give the Phillies’ bullpen some more diversity in delivery and stuff.

RHP Sergio Romo (38 in March)

Romo’s rookie year was 2008, and he played a pivotal role on those three Giants World Series teams. He’s pitched for four teams since, spending the last season and a half with the Twins. 

He’s remained effective with that trademark frisbee slider and, somehow, avoided a serious arm injury despite throwing it about 60% of the time. In the last two seasons, he has a 3.59 ERA and low 1.12 WHIP with more than a strikeout per inning.

Romo has a slingshot-like, low-three-quarters delivery. A right-handed hitter usually knows what’s coming, but that slider is tough to lay off of low-and-away or hit with much authority.

He’s probably looking at a contract similar to O’Day’s.

RHP Yoshihisa Hirano (37 in March)

Without runners on base, Hirano at times pauses after his high leg lift. It’s not unique but it’s not super common either.

He’s exclusively fastball-splitter, with a split a few mph slower than Hector Neris’.

He’s trended in the wrong direction in his three seasons in the majors with his ERA, WHIP and walk rate rising each year. He pitched poorly for the Mariners in 2020, thus he shouldn’t cost a ton if he remains in the states.

RHP Steve Cishek (35 in June)

Cishek has a funky delivery and there aren’t many pitchers with a slider that sweeps more than his.

He’s coming off a 5.40 ERA in 20 innings with the 2020 White Sox, the only season of his career with an ERA over 3.58. His career mark is 2.78.

There was not a drop-off in Cishek’s velocity this past summer. He sits 90-92 with the fastball and throws the slidepiece a lot, about 50% of the time.

At points in his career, he’s been challenged by left-handed hitters, though he held them to six hits in 40 plate appearances in 2020.

LHP Tony Watson (36 in May)

Watson hides the ball well, bringing it behind his lower back during his delivery. What he’d add to the Phillies’ bullpen is a long track record of success stopping same-handed hitters. Lefties have hit .225 against him with an OPS below .600 since 2012. They were 4 for 23 with no extra-base hits in the 60-game season.

He's probably looking for a multi-year deal. He's worth keeping an eye on in case he lingers in free agency and the price drops.

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