What the David Hale trade means for the Phillies moving forward

MLB: JUL 23 Yankees at Twins
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 23: New York Yankees Pitcher David Hale (75) delivers a pitch during a game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins on July 23, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Pressure continues to rise on the Phillies’ front office following another blown game on Thursday by the Phillies’ bullpen. The Phillies owned a 7-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth in game two of their double header yesterday against the Buffalo (Toronto) Blue Jays. Starter Vince Velasquez got into some trouble and ended up allowing two runs as the Phillies went to the bullpen. Connor Brogdon and Hector Neris blew the 7-4 lead, allowing the Blue Jays to win the game 9-8.

Today, news broke that the Phillies have acquired veteran RHP David Hale from the New York Yankees for pitcher Addison Russ. Hale, 32, was DFA’d by the Yankees to make room for closer Aroldis Chapman, and has bounced between the major and minor leagues for a few years. In 2019, Hale pitched 37.2 innings over the course of 20 games while maintaining a 3.11 ERA.

Hale has appeared in five games this season for the Yankees, including one appearance on August 6th against the Phillies. During that appearance, Hale allowed no runs on one hit while striking out three over the course of 2.1 innings pitched. Hale is capable of pitching over multiple innings in middle relief, which the Phillies most certainly need.

How Bad is the Bullpen?

Before getting into the numbers, it is worth noting that the Phillies are without four big pieces of their bullpen as Seranthony Dominguez, David Robertson, Victor Arano, and Ranger Suarez. The four pitched for a combined 3.61 ERA in 2019, but are all out with various ailments and injuries. Now, the Phillies will be without Jose Alvarez as he recovers from a 105 MPH line-drive to the groin last night.

The current bullpen owns an 8.07 ERA and has earned six of the Phillies’ 12 losses this season. Phillies’ relief pitchers have been responsible for 54% of opposing earned runs this season in 37% of the innings pitched. Phillies’ starting pitchers have pitched a collective 4.10 ERA (excluding Velasquez’ one relief appearance). While that number is mediocre, it is more than enough given that the Phillies score 5.52 runs per game, second-most in all of Major League Baseball.

But here is a question: how would the Phillies be doing with a decent bullpen? We will use the league median to find out. The Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen owns the median-performing bullpen in the league. The O’s pen owns a 4.38 ERA over the course of 111 innings pitched. Given that the Phillies’ bullpen has pitched 64.2 innings this year, a median bullpen would have allowed 31 runs over the course of that time. The Phillies’ bullpen allowed 58 runs.

2020 Phillies2020 Phillies w/ Median Bullpen
Runs Scored116116
Bullpen ER allowed5831
Runs Allowed11790
W-L (Projected for Median)9-1212-9

Yeah, the Phils would potentially be a 12-9 team with the best record in the NL East if they had an average bullpen.

Trade Deadline Pressure

Ricky Botallico said it right, Klentak needs to be calling every team in the league today. According to Ken Rosenthal, the club has also been connected to the Boston Red Sox in discussion for Brandon Workman.

While nothing is official, reports are coming from Jim Salisbury that the trade with the Red Sox may be a multi-player trade.

Unfortunately, given there are only 10 days until the Trade Deadline and the expanded playoff format this year, it is unlikely that the Phillies get an elite-level pitcher on the trade market.

But they may not need to. If the Phils can continue to collect improvement pieces like David Hale, then they may be able to create a makeshift bullpen. While an “Island of Misfit Toys”-style bullpen is not what Phillies fans may have in mind for a team that has supposed to have been spending “stupid money” for two seasons now, it just might be what it takes to get the team deep into September until reinforcements arrive in the form of David Robertson and Victor Arano.

The team deserves better. Joe Girardi deserves better. The City of Philadelphia gets better. Matt Klentak, get on the phone or start packing up your office.

Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire