The outcries and prayers for help in the bullpen may finally be receiving answers. After the addition of David Hale earlier yesterday afternoon, the Phillies have also picked up two new right-handed arms from the Red Sox. Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree are both fairly established veterans who will be welcomed by Phillies fans. The angry cries at Matt Klentak will be put on pause and the needed help is seemingly on the way as the Phillies look to make a playoff push.
It may be the worst kept secret in all of baseball that the Phillies bullpen has been bad. There have been games where it looks as if opposing teams are taking batting practice against the team, especially in the late innings of games. The Phillies have battled injuries in the bullpen from the jump this year and Jose Alvarez has been the latest name to be added to this after one of the more painful and sympathetic injuries that has been seen:
But the problems with the bullpen are much deeper than just injuries and the guys that have taken the mound have been borderline atrocious this year. The Phillies bullpen flexes a league-worst 8.07 ERA. For reference, the worst collective ERA in the history of baseball was the 1930 Phillies with an ERA of 8.01. To make matters worse, the bullpen has been forced into action fairly early into games with the starters not being able to eat up significant minutes of late. Last night, Aaron Nola was pulled after just 2.2 innings pitched, 2 nights ago Arrieta lasted 4.1 innings, and the night before that Zach Eflin was pulled after 4.
The 32-year-old is the biggest gem of the trade. In 2019 Workman had 16 saves with the Red Sox. He also had a record of 10-1 and had an impressive ERA of 1.88. Workman is super tough to hit and while he has a fairly high walk rate, his strikeout rate was 13.1 batters and he allowed 0.13 HR’s per 9 innings. This year he has not looked as consistent as he has an ERA of 4.05, but that still stacks up pretty well in comparison to some of the other bullpen options and the Phils will hope he can find some of the success he showed last year. Whether Girardi will choose to use Workman in the closer role and slide Hector Neris into a set-up man spot is still to be determined, but he is a nice piece that the Phillies will now have to play with. Workman was actually originally drafted by the Phillies in 2007, but he chose to go to college instead. He will also be a free agent at the end of this season.
Known for his power, Hembree has been one of Boston’s more reliable relievers over the past 4 seasons. This season has been tough so far for the righty as he has a 5.59 ERA in just 9 and 2/3 innings of work. Four of the runs he has given up this year came against the Phillies earlier this week. Hopefully the new opportunity with the Phils and change of scenery will help Hembree to get back on track.
What Phillies Gave Up
At this point, there are probably not too many people who will be sorry to see Nick Pivetta go. Pivetta began the 2019 season as the Phillies number 2 starter and has constantly been looked at as an exciting prospect since he came to the team. He will take his career 17-30 record and 5.50 ERA with him to Boston and hope to put the pieces together there. Connor Seabold is a fairly exciting prospect but is largely unproven, and the need for help is now. Seabold was the #23 ranked prospect in the Phillies system before the trade. He has an 11-10 record with an ERA of 3.52 in his 40 appearances in the minors so far.
It is also notable that the Phillies will be receiving $815,000 cash in the trade and will stay under the luxury tax. While some may have hoped for a larger return for Pivetta, the team still should be excited about what they were able to get back. The trade market is in unforeseen circumstances given the shortened season and expanded playoffs, so it is difficult to fully judge the trade.
Regardless, help is finally on the way and fans should be excited about that. Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto are playing like every bit the superstars they are and the Phillies are wasting the impressive numbers they have put out. The Phillies sit 4 games out of first place in the NL East with some extremely important games coming soon.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire
Lifelong Philly Sports fan and current college student at Alvernia University. Writes about Sixers and Phillies and Co-Host of Pick Swap Podcast
Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod