A week after acquiring three relievers in two trades, the Phillies have made a trade to acquire another arm.
On Monday, the Phillies dealt three minor leaguers (all low level PTNBLs) to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever David Phelps. With this deal, Phelps is being reunited with Joe Girardi, who managed him with the Yankees from 2012-2014.
The right hander from Notre Dame has had a really nice year for the Brew Crew, going 2-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 frames. More impressively, Phelps has a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of just 0.69, striking out 20 hitters while only walking two. He is averaging 94.1 mph on his heater, which is good for the second fastest average of his career. He has relied much more on his cutter this year than he has in previous years (35.6%) and the change seems to have brought his game to another level.
Phelps advanced statistics tell a better story of just how good he has been this year. Phelps is in the top 8% of the league in expected batting average (xBA) and weighted on-base (wOBA), with numbers of .186 and .215 respectively. His hard hit percentage is an even 24%, which is good enough for top 5%. The average exit velocity on hit balls off of his pitches is 80.4 mph, which is close to the lowest in the league.
Phelps immediately fits in the back end of the Phillies bullpen. He is not situational reliever, as his numbers against left-handed hitters this year are incredible. Lefties are 4/32 with 15 strikeouts against Phelps. Last time I checked, each of the Nationals (Soto), Braves (Freeman), and Mets (Conforto) have dangerous hitters from the left side of the plate.
Also, Phelps has dominated the middle of opposing teams’ lineup. The middle of opposing lineups, or the 3-4-5 hitters, have combined to go 1/18 against him with 14 Ks. While it seems that this could just be a rental, Phelps has a $4.5 million option for 2021, making it very plausible that he is not just coming in to help this year.
Phelps wasn’t the only help the Phillies’ bullpen got today, as both Ranger Suarez was activated from the IL this afternoon. While Suarez is not a new face, he hasn’t pitched at all this year due to a bout with Covid-19. After showing potential as a swing man in the bullpen last year, he will look to build on that momentum moving forward.
It may not be the best bullpen, but it is the one we are stuck with. The trade for Phelps and the activation of Suarez should help bolster what has been the Achilles’ heel for this team all year. I have yet to see reports about the identities of the three players going the other way for Phelps, but with the inactivity of Klentak this offseason addressing the bullpen, it doesn’t really matter. Phelps is going to help this team win now.
Let’s hope Klentak did enough to cover up the holes. The season is rolling into the home stretch.