Ever since the Phillies lost David Robertson, there hasn’t been anyone regarded as a ‘set up’ man in the bullpen. Many fans have clamored for the Phillies to go out and hunt for a ‘set up’ man on the trade market.
The search may now be over as the Hunter has become the hunted. If the pun hasn’t hit you yet, I’m talking about Tommy Hunter.
Hunter was on the Injured List since February with a strained right elbow. Since his return, Hunter has appeared in the 8th inning in each of the 4 games he’s pitched.
Now some people might be doubtful of Tommy Hunter as a fulltime set up man and the would be justified in the doubt. Hunter did not endear himself to the Philly Phaithful in his first few months in red pinstripes. From April until June 30, 2018, Hunter was sporting a 5.04 ERA in 25 innings pitched. He didn’t justify the 2-year $18 million deal he got in the offseason.
Since the beginning of July of last year, Hunter has shown what he’s truly made of, putting up a 2.70 ERA in 43.1 IP. The veteran has been more good than he’s been bad.
He’s not allowed a run in 4.1 IP since coming back from injury, hopefully pointing to a return to his 2017 form, where he had a 2.61 ERA in 58.2 IP.
Hunter’s rise to the occasion would be welcomed after the somewhat ‘fail-proof’ plan backfired. Robertson had played 60+ innings in each of his last nine seasons and did so with good reason. A 2.88 ERA/2.81 FIP over 657 MLB innings is impressive and it’s what led to such a heavy contract. But after allowing four runs on eight hits and six walks in a short spell, it became clear that this was just a move that didn’t pan out as anticipated.
The Phillies started off all singing and dancing this season, but the bullpen has quickly deteriorated and left the team longing for more. Hunters’ rise may not be the long-term solution, but if it prevents the panic for just a little while longer, it may be enough to kickstart that playoff push once more.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports