YWT: The Philadelphia Flyers Podcast - YWT #117 - Actually Good Hockey
Phillies Promote Top Infield Prospect Stott to Double-A

2021 Phillies: Acquiring a New Closer

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies are only nine weeks into the 162, the faithful mostly voice their displeasure with struggling players on the mound, in the field, and on the bench. Every campaign, stars receive their ire based on performances, real or perceived; and some judgements begin after only two weeks.  

 

Greener Pastures:

One Phillies fan believes the organization has tons of closers (his words) in the minors because that’s what scouting is for. Meanwhile, others think replacing Hector Neris could have been done long-ago or during the offseason. But if the front office can’t accomplish this immediately, are they incompetent?

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Have you ever considered that your perception of reality could be wrong? If you haven't, this is a pretty good sign that it is.” - Ernie J Zelinski

In November, management targets their shortcomings, but the emphasis is on their greatest needs. Not all! And they reassess their team’s weaknesses after a competitive three months because players tend to be streaky. Ergo, those 26 men have the opportunity to succeed, but there are surprises, disappointments and injuries.           

During the winter, the Fightins sought a catcher, a shortstop, a left-handed bat with 20-homer power, two starting pitchers and a totally revamped bullpen. However, today’s execs don’t have unlimited spending. Even the New York Yankees no longer pay penalties totaling over $500 million for one World Series title.                           

By June’s end, the Phils’ roster picture may change significantly, and the higher-ups are willing to exceed the $210 million CBT (competitive-balance threshold) by $15-20 million AAV (average annual value) for one --one-- year if the club has a realistic postseason chance. And the players know they control this by winning. 

Do the red pinstripes have a pipeline overflowing with top prospects another franchise would desire? No, so a top-tier closer would cost an Alec Bohm and/or a Spencer Howard only if that organization is out of contention. Translation: There is no “unicorn” solution to plug a hole, real or perceived.  

Manager Joe Girardi has a bullpen rotation, not a closer by analytics. Yes, it’s the old-fashioned way where relievers earn their spot in the pen’s back end. But many locals aren’t aware of the irony: Girardi is using the same methodology employed during Ricky Botallico’s time.                   

Phillies Bullpen Rotation:

  • Ninth Inning: Hector Neris.
  • Eighth Frame: Jose Alvarado.
  • Seventh Inning: Sam Coonrod until Archie Bradley’s ready.
  • Sixth Frame: Sam Coonrod, Connor Brogdon and Ranger Suarez.
  • Possible Tandem with Spencer Howard: Ranger Suarez.
  • Groundball Specialist: Brandon Kintsler.
  • Long Men: David Hale and Chase Anderson.

In 2020 and 2021, the faithful have favored JoJo Romero, Bradley, Alvarado and Coonrod to replace Neris. Some fans’ take: Two good performances by them and/or one poor outing by Neris is enough to warrant an immediate change. But some remember Neris blew consecutive saves in 2017, no?  

Recently, Coonrod has had three bad appearances out of his last four in innings other than the ninth. But some who favor him over Neris will probably be silent, yet they wouldn’t afford Neris the same consideration. Rule of thumb: Hurlers earn those last three frames with a track record, not a hot streak. 

Closer Projections for 2021:

  • U1: Upper Top Tier
  • L1: Lower Top Tier 
  • U2: Upper Second Tier
  • L2: Lower Second Tier
  • N1: Upper First Year
  • N2: Lower First Year
  • P1: Upper Low Pressure 
  • P2: Lower Low Pressure
  • C1: Upper Co-Closers
  • C2: Lower Co-Closers

Save Ratios: U1 = 90% (top) to L2 = 80% (bottom)

Projections based on track record and all stats through May 31.

NL EAST:

#

CLOSER

TEAM

SV

BS

PCT

ERA

AAV $$

L1

Smith, almost 32

Braves

9

0

100%

4.05

$13.3 million

N1

Garcia, 30.5

Marlins

9

1

90%

1.66

$1.9 million

L2

Diaz, 27

Mets

9

0

100%

3.10

$7 million

L2

Neris, almost 32

Phillies

9

2

81.8%

1.96

$5 million

L1

Hand, 31

Nationals

8

2

80%

3.44

$10.5 million

Will Smith had signed with the Atlanta Braves to close, but a rejuvenated Mark Melancon prospered, while Smith had a pedestrian summer. And keep in mind, New York Mets supporters are waiting for Edwin Diaz to implode like he did in 2019. In May, he coughed up three with a four-run lead to the Phils in a non-save situation.   

Brad Hand of the Washington Nationals is a known commodity with two blown saves, while Yimi Garcia is new to the ninth inning for the Miami Marlins. Basically, the pressure of winning and/or making the playoffs is light for the Fish, so Garcia has a situation similar to Shane Greene’s with the ‘20 Detroit Tigers.

NL CENTRAL:

#

CLOSER

TEAM

SV

BS

PCT

ERA

AAV $$

L2

Kimbrel, almost 33

Cubs

12

2

85.7%

0.82

$14.3 million

 

Committee 

Reds

         

U1

Hader, 27

Brewers

12

0

100%

0.87

$6.7 million

P1

Rodríguez, 31

Pirates

6

1

85.7%

1.61

$1.7 million

N1

Reyes, 26.5

Cardinals

15

0

100%

0.64

$0.9 million

 

NL WEST:

#

CLOSER

TEAM

SV

BS

PCT

ERA

AAV $$

P2

Crichton, 29

D’backs

4

0

100%

6.14

$0.6 million

P2

Bard, almost 36

Rockies

5

3

62.5%

4.50

$2.9 million

L2

Jansen, 33.5

Dodgers

12

2

85.7%

2.01

$16 million

U2

Melancon, 36

Padres

17

2

89.5%

0.74

$3 million

C2

McGee, 34.5

Rogers, 30.5

Giants

12

6

2

3

85.7%

66.7%

4.37

1.63

$2.5 million

$0.6 million

While statistics appear equal, it’s only on the surface. To illustrate, the P designation is for low-pressure saves on an out-of-contention team like the 2020 Tigers with Greene. And after Detroit had traded him to Atlanta, the stretch-drive intensity revealed he wasn’t a ninth-frame option. Viva la différence!                                        

Like pitching under low pressure, first-season closers (N designation) are replacing their free-agent, ineffective, and/or injured predecessors. So, they may or may not be dominant for more than one campaign, and dealing for a reliever with a hot first half could backfire. 

Co-closers and committees have reasons similar to first-timers, plus they could be left-right pairings or analytics-driven complements. However, Girardi prefers his best arm for the ninth inning, and part-timers would be too risky because they would shoulder a full load, not a partial one.

Trade Candidates:

If the Fightins replace Neris, they probably wouldn’t acquire a first-summer closer with sparkling numbers; they’d turn to an in-house reliever. But a franchise dropping out of contention could be a salary-dump possibility. Basically, management would look for upward movement, not lateral.           

Keep in mind, a fireman can give up two runs in one inning and get the save despite a poor outing or a blown save with an error plating an inherited runner. And a reliever can implode in a non-save situation. Therefore, some stats can be misleading.  

Phillies Potential Acquisitions:

National League:

  • U1: Josh Hader (MIL)
  • U2: Melancon (SDP)
  • L1: Smith (ATL) and Brad Hand (WAS)*
  • L2: Diaz (NYM), Craig Kimbrel (CHC) and Kenley Jansen (LAD)
  • (L2: Neris)

* Falling out of contention

Even though no NL clubs of interest have reached a selling point, the Phils would only improve marginally with Hand. And the Milwaukee Brewers would not swap Hader because they have a solid postseason chance; besides, the red pinstripes don’t have the trade chips to rent Hader.  

AL EAST:

#

CLOSER

TEAM

SV

BS

PCT

ERA

AAV $$

 

Committee 

Orioles

         

N1

Barnes, almost 31

Red Sox

12

1

92.3%

2.63

$4.5 million

U1

Chapman, 33

Yankees

11

1

91.7%

0.45

$17.5 million

 

Committee 

Rays

         

L2

Romano, 28

Blue Jays

3

1

75%

1.93

$0.6 million

 

AL CENTRAL:

#

CLOSER

TEAM

SV

BS

PCT

ERA

AAV $$

U2

Hendriks, 32

White Sox

13

2

86.7%

2.05

$18 million

C2

Karinchak, 25.5

Clase, 23

Indians

6

9

1

1

85.7%

90%

1.59

1.19

$0.6 million

$0.6 million

C2

Soto, 26

Fulmer, 28

Tigers

5

4

0

1

100%

80%

3.32

3.58

$0.6 million

$3.1 million

 

Committee

Royals

         

C2

Robles, 30.5

Rogers, 30.5

Twins

3

4

2

2

60%

66.7%

3.59

2.95

$2 million

$6 million

 

AL WEST:

#

CLOSER

TEAM

SV

BS

PCT

ERA

AAV $$

L2

Pressly, 32.5

Astros

7

1

87.5%

2.35

$8.8 million

L2

Iglesias, 31.5

Angels

9

2

81.8%

4.29

$8 million

C2

Diekman, 34

Trivino, 29.1

A’s

6

7

2

2

75%

77.8%

2.95

2.88

$3.8 million

$0.9 million

 

Committee

Mariners 

         

P1

Kennedy, 36.5

Rangers

11

1

91.7%

1.86

$2.2 million

Phillies Potential Acquisitions:

American League:

  • U1: Aroldis Chapman (NYY)
  • U2: Liam Hendriks (CWS)
  • L2: Jordan Romano (TOR), Rynn Pressley (HOU) and Raisel Iglesias (LAA)*

* Falling out of contention

While Iglesias has produced better than 80 percent in seasons past, he hasn’t been as effective since ‘19. And the pressure was lower then because the Cincinnati Reds were not contending. So, he might not be the answer, but he could be the best available option. 

In 2008, the Phillies faithful formed their first impression of Brad Lidge, but his 2007 statistics indicate his availability. Basically, he had recorded a career year in 2008, but it evened out to 72 saves out of 83 opportunities for a rate of 86.8 percent for 2008 and 2009 combined. But a championship dwarfs blemishes.                        

Recently, one poster on another site stated fans don’t know what they want. But they do know what they don’t want. In one word, what do the faithful want if you eliminate what they don’t want? Everything!   

 

NEXT:

Trading for a Starter

Rsz_neris___

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jim Mahaffy

Although Phillies like every team could use to upgrade the closer. Neris serves his purpose for this team. WE NEED A #3, #4 and #5 Starter.. 10 years since we had a competent #3, #4 and #5. we went from 4 Aces to 4 bases with every 3,4, and 5 starter since 2012. Not sure if you can miss that much on purpose but what the Phillies have done seems like it was planed.

Randy

It seems like the same problem over and over again. I think being a coach in baseball the biggest improvement would be to find a good pitching coach! If it would be one pitcher with a problem I would say it is the player, but this seems to be a group problem.
So that leads me to coaching or lack of good coaching. I see to many bad balls thrown(location) but they can throw in the upper 90's. That's pitch selection.

Tal Venada

Firstly, thanks for reading.

In 2011, having four aces was a once-in-a-lifetime luxury. Besides, the Phils didn't have four aces in 1980 and 2008. But 2011 was the best record in franchise history with 102 wins, and they didn't win a playoff series.

Before the year is over, Eflin could be a 2 and Velasquez could be a 4. Neither will probably be an ace. Do yourself a favor or you'll be disappointed unnecessarily.

Again, thanks for reading.

Tal Venada

Thanks, firstly, for reading Jim.

It sounds like you're referring to the bullpen. Well, the reason they're relievers is not maintaining location for 6 innings or more. Changing pitching coaches isn't a cure-all. And coaches get fired when their charges are a total failure, not having a rough patch. Even the best relievers have location issues with few exceptions.

Tal Venada

Sorry, Randy. I got your name mixed up with the other commentor.

Jim Mahaffy

Tal, All I can do is sit here ROFLMAO. Literally you wrote a decent article and destroyed yourself and your article integrity with your reply comment defending the Phillies incredibly poor POOR pitching choices over the last 10 years ... in regards to your acceptance of the mediocre at best pitching staffs we have had here over the last 10 years. Keep accepting mediocrity and you will never be disappointed either. Personally I don't expect mediocracy from players being paid Millions some tens of millions and a few 20's of millions a year.... but then again I don't work for the Phillies so I guess I'm allowed to be honest.

Tal Venada

Thanks for the compliment and the comment, Jim.

But I only stated what I expected in 2021 from Eflin and Velasquez. I never said I accepted their rotation for the last 10 years. I only said that 4 aces is a once-in-a-lifetime luxury, and that they didn't have 4 aces in their 2 championships.

As for the rebuild, the pitching they received are referred to as lottery tickets for obvious reasons. I made no comment on them or their other pitching from 2012 through 2020. No team likes to rebuild which is why they always do it as a last resort.

Other clubs don't part with potential aces even for a Cole Hamels. Management expected one pitcher would be a mid-rotation piece and hopefully a second arm would be a five. Of course, the only way to find out is by letting them all pitch.

I don't accept or reject what they're doing. My articles are my opinion of what they did, are doing, or could do. But if something really stinks like the hitting coach under Gabe, I'll point out how a one-size-fits-all approach has hurt certain hitters.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)