Phillies Must Add Pitching
With the July 31st trade deadline looming, every team is looking in the mirror evaluating their chances for a postseason run. For some teams, the season is already over and they are looking to move older, expensive, players for some younger, cheaper talent.
Other teams find themselves ahead of the pack and will make some risky moves to win now. Others are stuck in purgatory — not bad, not great, but a few players away from being a championship-caliber team. The Philadelphia Phillies are in this group, and to be a factor, they must add some proven veteran pitching — both in the rotation and the bullpen.
The Injury Bug
Entering Friday night’s game with the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies find themselves at 54-48. They are five and a half games behind Atlanta in the NL East and one game out of a Wild Card spot. They are by no means out of playoff contention, but this squad has vastly underperformed their expectations. Injuries have been a huge factor. They have lost Andrew McCutchen for the year to a torn ACL, and David Robertson‘s return is still up in the air. Robertson aside, the whole bullpen has had injury problems.
Big-Money Acquisitions Have Been Streaky
This isn’t the only issue, however. The Phillies big off-season acquisitions have been streaky. Bryce Harper has not been bad by any means. He’s currently seventh in the National League with 70 RBI and tied for second with 30 doubles. However, no team pays someone over $300 million to be among the league leaders in strikeouts. His 119 strikeouts are second-most in the National League.
The same can be said for J.T. Realmuto. He has brought some terrific defense and leadership to the team, but he is well on his way to striking out the most of any season in his career. He currently has 90 strikeouts. The most he has ever had is 106.
Jean Segura has dealt with some injuries as well, but when he has been on the field, his numbers are also down. From 2016-2018, Segura hit at least .300. As of today, he sits at .273.
The Phillies offense, when firing on all cylinders, has the potential to put up runs in bunches, so chances are they won’t be adding a bat. To make the playoffs and have a shot to make a deep run, the Phillies must add some pitching.
Phillies tied to Tigers’ Matthew Boyd, Shane Greene
One of the names that keeps coming up as a target for the Phillies is Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd. He isn’t exactly a household name, but he is in the midst of a career year. His 6-8 record does not reflect how well he’s pitched. He’s put up some gaudy strike out totals. In 126 innings pitched, he has struck out 168 batters while walking just 26. He also has a career-low 4.07 ERA.
Boyd’s strikeout ability is particularly alluring to the Phillies because they play half their games in the homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park. Opposing power hitters can’t take advantage of the cozy ballpark if they aren’t putting the ball in play.
Boyd is affordable. He’s only making $2.6 million this season and is under team control through 2022. That makes it a little easier to justify sending top prospects when compared to someone like Madison Bumgarner, who would require top prospects with no guarantee of returning next year.
Boyd’s teammate, closer Shane Greene, could also be included in a deal. This would address the Phillies’ two biggest needs — late-inning relief and a frontline starter. Greene, like Boyd, is having the best season of his career. He has converted 22 of 25 save chances while posting a microscopic 1.22 ERA.
Another name the Phillies have been linked to is the Cleveland Indians‘ Trevor Bauer. He would not only add an All-Star-caliber arm to the rotation but also help the bullpen. He’s thrown a Major League-leading 152 1/3 innings to go along with a 3.49 ERA and 179 strikeouts.
Bauer does not come without risk, however. He will be a free agent after 2020 and insists that he will only sign one-year deals for the remainder of his career. It would be quite easy for a team to swoop in sign him away, making it hard to justify trading away potential future stars for just a year and a half of Bauer.
Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles
One other possibility that would address both needs is the Toronto Blue Jays duo of Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles. Stroman is having his best season, but thanks to the Blue Jays lack of offense, he is just 5-10 despite a 3.25 ERA. Giles, who once closed for the Phillies, is having a big bounce back year. He’s posted a 1.59 ERA and has blown only one save in 15 chances. He’s also had a terrific strikeout rate, punching out 58 batters in just 34 innings pitched.
Weekend Series Will Determine Deadline Strategy
Whether the Philadelphia Phillies make a move almost certainly will be determined at the conclusion of Sunday’s game with the Braves. If the Phillies can get a sweep or win the series, there might be some fresh faces in Philly — especially on the pitching staff.
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