By Theo DeRosa, Sports Talk Philly staff
The Phillies' crowded bullpen mix just gained a little more breathing room at the cost of an injury.
On Monday, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reported that veteran reliever Tommy Hunter has a mild hamstring strain and will begin the season on the disabled list.
Phillies reliever Tommy Hunter will open season on DL with mild hamstring strain. So looks like there is room for both Jake Thompson and Victor Arano
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) March 26, 2018
Hunter, 31, signed a two-year, $18-million contract with the Phillies in December 2017 after a stellar season of a 2.61 earned run average with the Tampa Bay Rays. He figures to fit into the back end of the bullpen once healthy.
With swingman Mark Leiter Jr. on the disabled list with a forearm strain, the Phillies have lost two key parts of their bullpen depth. But the club should have the reinforcements to weather the storm.
Hunter's injury allows the Phillies to carry another young reliever. As Salisbury mentioned, both Jake Thompson, 24, and Víctor Arano, 23, should make the team, joining Adam Morgan, Héctor Neris, Pat Neshek, Edubray Ramos, Drew Hutchison, Hoby Milner and Luis García in an nine-man bullpen with which the Phillies are likely to start the year. The club could choose to go with an eight-man 'pen with only one of Thompson and Arano.
Thompson was solid in a swingman role in 2017, posting a 3.88 ERA in 46.1 innings. But his 2017 FIP (fielding-independent pitching) of 5.92 does hint at regression to come.
Arano came up after rosters expanded in September and was effective in his limited role. The Mexican right-hander struck out 13 in 10.2 innings with a 1.69 ERA. Baseball-Reference.com projects him for 30 innings out of the bullpen in 2018 with a 3.90 ERA.