The Phillies trade history is marked with up and downs. For every Carlton and Schilling, there has been a Jenkins and Sandberg. With that being said, it’s starting to look like the Phillies won their trades in 2015.
Traded Jonathan Papelbon and cash to the Washington Nationals. Received Nick Pivetta.
Ok. This might be the steal of the decade for the Phillies, the modern day Kevin Stocker for Bobby Abreu. Ruben Amaro Jr. was able to send clubhouse cancer Jonathan Papelbon to the division rival Washington Nationals for a young AA pitcher with a live fastball.
After looking questionable to start his big year career, Nick Pivetta first showed signs of promise after arguably outdueling the best pitcher in the American League. On June 15th, 2017, the Phillies and Pivetta matched up against the Red Sox and Chris Sale.
Sale pitched a gem, pitching 8 innings with 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, and 10 K’s. He received the L in the game because Pivetta went step for step with him.
Pivetta went 7 innings with 4 hits, 2 walks, 0 ER, and 9 K’s.
This was the first shimmer of a diamond in the rough. Pivetta’s ERA for the 2017 was 6.02, but that’s turned a corner.
Pivetta has been one of the Phillies best pitchers in 2018. In his last 3 starts, Pivetta has gone 19 innings, surrendering only 10 hits, 1 run, and 2 walks while striking out 25. He is the only pitcher in the National League to strike out 60 batters while walking 12 or fewer. Only Rick Porcello and Cory Kluber have done so in the American League.
On Monday, Pivetta shut down the Altanta Braves who, at the time of this writing, have the best winning percentage in the National League. He allowed just 4 hits and a walk over 7 innings pitched with 7 K’s. The Atlanta Braves have one of the best lefty loaded lineups in all of baseball, featuring Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, and switch hitters Ozzie Albies and Johan Comargo. Lefties have hit .266/.324/.404 this year against Pivetta compared to .196/.234/.294 for righties.
While Pivetta has only had 10 starts so far this season, he looks like he’s evolving into one of the league’s best young pitchers (everyone please knock on wood, just in case).
Fans you can also take solace that we acquired Pivetta for this man.
Or better yet, THIS MAN.
Traded Jake Diekman, Cole Hamels and cash to the Texas Rangers. Received Jorge Alfaro, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, Matt Harrison, Jake Thompson and Nick Williams
While not notorious as Jonathon Papelbon, the Phillies traded beloved starting pitcher Cole Hamels (fresh off a no-hitter) and lefty fireballer Jake Diekman to the Texas Rangers for a gaggle of young players (and one expensive injured veteran).
Hamels and Diekman have had various levels of success with the Rangers. Hamels has gone 35-16 with a 3.66 ERA and one All-Star nod in 2016. Diekman, while facing injuries and illness, has become one of the better lefty relievers in the American League. He’s had 3.02 ERA over 101.1 innings pitched.
The southpaw duo have had success, but the move was necessary for a stagnant Phillies team who needed to kick start their rebuild.
The prospect package has been a mixed bag. Alec Asher spent a cup of coffee with the Phillies until being jettisoned off the roster. Matt Marrison stayed injured, but these are not the players that made this trade.
In 2015 and 2016, Jerad Eickhoff had an ERA of 3.44 over 41 starts. He struggled in 2017 leading to a disabled list run that hasn’t ended to this date. Eickhoff was just the throw in piece of the deal. I think it’s safe to say he exceeded any expectations since they were so low to begin with.
Jake Thompson has been up and down with the Phillies for the past 2 seasons. He’s shown promise in both starting and bullpen roles, but is still trying to put everything together. It’ll take another year to figure out if Thompson is part of the win in this deal. According to FanGraphs, he has started to emphasize his cutter more than his 4-seam fastball. Time will tell if the adjustment helps the young pitcher stick in the majors.
Outfielder Nick Williams has shown promise for the Phillies, making the outfield at Citizens Bank Park crowded with talent. Williams made an immediate impact in the majors when he was called up last season, batting .288/.338/.473 in 83 games with 12 HRs and 55 RBI.
While starting off the season slowly, Nicky Dubs has slashed .313/.405/.531 over the past 15 games in 37 plate appearances. Where Williams has really shined though is on coming off the bench. As a pinch hitter, he’s torn the cover off the ball, slashing .412/.444/.765 with a 1.209 OPS. The two pinch hit home runs he has had have been crucial. The first came against the Reds in early April, giving the Phillies a 6-5 lead over Cincinnati and ultimately the win. The second propelled the Phillies against the Mets on May 13th, driving in 3 runs. Williams is still growing in the majors and could become an everyday player within the coming months.
The most exciting of the package has been catcher Jorge Alfaro. The young backstop has improved immensely defensively. He has always had a canon of an arm, but his throws are leading all of the MLB in speed. They’ve averaged 89.8 MPH, 2 MPH better than second on the list Yankee’s Gary Sanchez with 87.8. He started the season battling to become the Phillies starting catcher with Andrew Knapp, but has now run away with the playing time. In the past 17 games, Alfaro has slashed .333/.377/.526. Not only has he been hitting, but he’s been making plays like this.
After the game Monday against the Braves, head coach Gabe Kapler said this about Alfaro.
“I don’t know if there’s another catcher that I’ve ever seen — and I played with Pudge — that makes that play in the ninth inning.”
-credit to Meghan Montemurro for the quote
The pieces are coming together and starting to mature for the Philadelphia Phillies. A new core is almost here. Summers should be fun for the foreseeable future.