Last season the Phillies bullpen was one of the worst in the league. They had the second highest HR/9 rate at 1.40 and had a combined ERA of 5.05. They also allowed the third highest Batting Average on Balls In Play (.317).
The lack of production from the bullpen is incredibly hurtful to a low scoring team with young starting pitchers. If the Phils want to be more competitive in ball games next year they’ll have to improve the bullpen. Here are four players that could bolster our bullpen.
Greg Holland (Closer)
In 2013 and 2014 Holland was one of the top closers in all of baseball. He converted 93 of 98 saves for the Kansas City Royals with a 1.32 ERA. He also fanned 193 batters in just 129 innings over that span.
Holland was rewarded with an all-star appearance both seasons and was blossoming into a superstar closer, but unfortunately had to undergo Tommy John Surgery early in the 2015 campaign. The severity of the injury no doubt hurts his free agent stock, but he will be 30 years old and 18 months removed from surgery by the time the season begins.
There is certainly a risk in signing him but the potential reward is exponentially greater. Holland may be looking for a one-year deal to improve his stock before hitting the market again next year, and the Phillies should absolutely pursue him.
Sergio Romo (Reliever)
Another pitcher with an injury history that can improve the Phils’ pen is Giants reliever Sergio Romo. Romo missed significant time with an elbow injury this past season, but was effective when he played.
Romo finished the season with a 2.64 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30 ⅔ innings. Romo, however, was incredibly inefficient in the playoffs. He allowed three earned runs and posted a 13.50 ERA in just two appearances in the NLDS. That performance should make him a bit more affordable, but won’t prevent him from finding work. The Phillies should at least kick the tires on this one.
Brad Ziegler (Reliever)
Ziegler, 37, would add some much needed consistency and veteran leadership to the young Phillies’ roster. Ziegler has a career 2.66 ERA in 596 ⅔ innings, and posted a 1.52 ERA after being traded to the Red Sox this past season. Ziegler’s success is not predicated on speed or overpowering hitters so his age should not be much of a concern. Ziegler won’t command anything crazy on the market and would be a great fit in Philly.
Joe Blanton (Reliever)
Perhaps a reunion is in order. The name Joe Blanton may cause some Phillies fans to cringe, as he was once a very ineffective starting pitcher for the ball club. In five seasons with the Phils, Blanton allowed 663 hits in 616 innings, and averaged a 4.47 ERA over that span before being dealt to the Dodgers.
Blanton bounced around the league a bit the four years after that, but seemed to find his niche as a relief pitcher last season in a return to the LA Dodgers. Blanton posted a 2.48 ERA and struck out 80 batters in 80 innings last season. He also tossed five scoreless innings in four appearances against the Nationals in the NLDS. Four years older and in a new role Blanton seems like a good fit in the City of Brotherly Love.
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports