Phillies’ lefties key to bullpen success

How many lefties would you guess are currently in the Phillies bullpen? One? Two? M a y b e Three?

Right now there are four: Cole Irvin, Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez, and Ranger Suarez. Funny thing is 3 of them began as starters for the Phillies.

Ranger Suarez never relieved a minor league game past rookie-ball and started in 3 out of his first 4 Phillies games. Adam Morgan started 36 games between 2015 and 2016 (don’t ask how they went). Cole Irvin’s first 3 major league games were as a starter.

Now, these 4 players make up half of the Phillies bullpen. So let’s split ’em up and show you why each is important to the 2020 Phillies.

Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan has been with the Phillies since 2015. He’s never been the Phillies’ top option out of the pen but has flashed strings of success.

In 2019, Morgan faced a couple of injuries. Before that, he was off to the best start in his career. For his first 16 games, Morgan had a 0.00 ERA. In his first 24 games, Morgan allowed only 4 ER over 18.1 IP, good for a 1.76 ERA. Those 4 ER came in just 2 games.

Morgan’s season ended on July 31st after a terrible outing against the Giants. He was placed on the IL for the remainder of the season.

He finished with a 3.94 ERA but if you take away that last outing it goes to a 3.07 ERA.

Jose Alvarez

I’ll say it now. Jose Alvarez for Luis Garcia was one of the best trades of this decade. The Phillies got rid of their worst reliever and in exchange for arguably their best in 2019.

In 2019, former Phillie Luis Garcia had a 4.35 ERA, a 1.9 HR/9, and a 4.8 BB/9. Comparatively, Alvarez had a 3.36 ERA, a 1.2 HR/9, and a 2.7 BB/9.

If you take out Alvarez’s first month, his numbers get immensely better. His ERA falls to 2.57 and his HR/9 falls to 0.92. Alvarez had the third-best ERA in the bullpen among pitchers with at least 15 IP.

Ranger Suarez

Remember how Alvarez had the third-best ERA in the bullpen? Ranger Suarez had the second-best bullpen ERA with a 3.14.

After a failed rookie campaign in 2018, Ranger really came into his own in 2019 as a member of the bullpen. Of all Phillies relievers with over 25 IP, Suarez had the second-highest SO/W ratio at 3.50. He showed good control and limited home runs.

With about every other reliever on this list, Suarez had one bad outing that would change his stats for the better.

In his first outing, Suarez allowed 4 ER with 2 HR in 4 IP. If you remove that, his ERA comes to 2.62 in 44.2 IP with only 4 HR allowed. Hopefully, he’ll continue to find success in the bullpen in 2020.

Cole Irvin

What? Were you not expecting Cole Irvin on this list? Yes, he had a 5.83 ERA last year with a 1.392 WHIP, but let’s break down those stats.

I’m going to ignore his starts as we’re talking about the bullpen. Even then, the stats aren’t pretty. September saw a change. In 12.1 IP in September, Cole Irvin had a 0.73 ERA. Opponents only had a .459 OPS against Irvin that month.

Irvin is definitely the weakest of the 4, but his September should inspire some hope.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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