Phillies Off-Season: 3 Strong Relief Options for 2024

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Phillies Hector Neris
Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris throws during the fourth inning of Game 7 of the baseball AL Championship Series against the Texas Rangers Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The Philadelphia Phillies have had a quiet offseason following their mind-melting collapse in the NLDS.

Thankfully, it hasn’t caused riots at the sports complex for two big reasons. On top of the Eagles’ collapse soaking up all the rage and disappointment in the city, the Phillies’ roster is very well-rounded. There just aren’t many areas in serious need of additions.

Sure, the Phillies still need to make some tweaks. But with options at every field position, all five spots in the rotation, and a near-fully stocked bullpen, Dave Dombrowski has himself a roster he knows can win and has few holes. For now, our patented rumor generator is the best way to keep your ideas for Phillies roster moves churning. If there’s one thing Philly needs to add at some point before the season, it’s another bullpen arm.

Craig Kimbrel cemented himself as a Phillies villain (Phillain? Eh, maybe not.) for the way his one-year stint ended. But he did rank seventh on the team in innings pitched and first in average leverage index during the regular season, meaning he pitched a lot and in a lot of high-pressure situations. The team has plenty of options to soak up those innings, but Kimbrel’s departure did leave a pretty big hole.

Even if Orion Kerkering is ready to hit the ground running next season, it would be nice to have another surefire option to round out the bunch.

With Jordan Hicks becoming the latest pitching project for the San Francisco Giants, Brent Suter joining the up-and-coming Cincinnati Reds, and the market for Josh Hader heating up, here are some relievers that the Phillies should look to sign.

Phillies Craig Kimbrel
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, delivers in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Atlanta. Kimbrel celebrated his 400th career save. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Potential Options for the Phillies

Robert Stephenson

You know you’re legit if the Tampa Bay Rays are interested in you. Stephenson was acquired at the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates and immediately showed improvement, posting a 2.35 ERA in 38.1 innings after the trade. The question remains now: can he replicate what he learned with another team?

Stephenson is a hard thrower who struck out 38.3 percent of the batters he faced last season and 36.0 percent the year before. The eight-year veteran not only added a cutter to his arsenal last season but used it 41.4 percent of the time, way more than any other of his pitches. The Phillies are one of the teams rumored to have interest in Stephenson, along with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.

Ryne Stanek

Another hard thrower is incoming. The Phillies saw the Houston Astros’ righty in the 2022 World Series and could welcome him in as they look to reach the mountaintop themselves.

Stanek’s four-seam fastball is legit, touching 98 miles per hour on average. That pitch and his slider move more than other pitches of their type do, making him someone Phillies fans should greatly enjoy watching. His number of home runs allowed flared up last season, but he allowed fewer walks on his way to a 4.09 ERA following campaigns with 1.15 and 3.42, respectively. He has plenty of experience in various innings but is best used before the ninth, just like the last person on this list.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 12: Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher Hector Neris (50) celebrates after completing the ninth inning during the game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies on September 12, 2019 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Hector Neris

The contract Neris is rumored to want is much lower than the enormous figure that made the rounds online previously. The former Phillie would make for a sensible addition after having the chance to learn from the Astros. Neris’ struggles in the ninth inning are well known, as his career ERA in that inning is 4.05. In the prior three, it’s below three.

He posted a 1.71 ERA in 68.1 innings last season and a 3.72 ERA with a similar workload the prior year. Leaning more into his four-seamer helped make him a solid contributor in Houston. While his strikeouts took a dip last season, it was offset by a fantastic hard-hit percentage of just 28.0, which ranked in the 98th percentile on Baseball Savant. If used right, he could work very well for the Phillies in a second stint.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)