While the Philadelphia Phillies will potentially further address their starting rotation woes ahead of the July 31 trade deadline — in addition to signing southpaw Drew Smyly on Friday — the club may not be as inclined to acquire relief pitchers.
Such relievers are already on their 40-man roster, as according to Philadelphia Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler in conversation with MLB Network Radio, the team could soon get back two key right-handed relievers Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson.
"We can envision a scenario where, at some point in the next three weeks, we have [David] back in our bullpen at full strength," Kapler said. "We could also envision a scenario where at some point in the next month we have [Seranthony] back at full strength in our bullpen ... Those would be the kind of acquisitions that would make us much better immediately."
Robertson has been out since mid-April, while Dominguez has been out since early June — both with elbow injuries.
Overall this season, the Phillies bullpen has posted a MLB fifth-worst 5.03 ERA, while allowing the fifth-most home runs (65). In his last four appearances prior to his injury, Robertson posted a perfect 0.00 ERA while striking out five batters and issuing only one walk over 4 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, 20 of Dominguez's 27 appearances this season have been scoreless outings, including each of his last six.
"David is coming along slowly, and he's coming along slowly because he hasn't really been injured in his career. He doesn't know what to make of the way his body is responding," Kapler said. "But, every day is a very, very small step forward. He's getting better and better."
Roberston, 34, signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Phillies in January. Last season, with the New York Yankees, the 12-year veteran posted a 3.23 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 91-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio ratio over 69 2/3 innings, along with five saves and 21 holds.
While Dominguez and Robertson are on the mend, the case is not the same for fellow right-handed Phillies relievers Tommy Hunter (arm) and Pat Neshek (hamstring). Kapler said it is "unlikely" that Hunter will return this season, and that Neshek would "probably out until the very earliest late August."
"So, we have our work cut out for us bridging the gap; however, we have had some left-handed pitching really step up in Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez and Ranger Suarez," Kapler said. "Ranger is looking like he could really be a good option in leverage situations against left-handed hitters, so we have guys stepping up in their place."
This month, Morgan, Alvarez and Suarez have combined to allow a combined just two runs (one earned), eight hits, no home runs, and three walks, while striking out 14 batters, over 18 appearances and 18 innings. Still, adding Dominguez and Robertson would help the bullpen tremendously, with less than 70 games remaining in the season and a playoff berth on the line.