One of the major holes that Dave Dombrowski vowed to attack was pitching depth, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. While the bullpen was much more pressing with their performance in 2020, the Phillies also needed to find some innings’ eaters behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin. They accomplished that goal when they gave Matt Moore $3 million to become the fourth starter. That deal was made official today.
Moore is coming off of a stellar performance in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. There is definitely some risk to Moore, as prior to last year, he looked like a pitcher that was on his way out of the MLB. His velocity had crept down and his once big strikeout numbers started to dwindle. However, Moore found something this year away from the Majors and is looking to carry that type of performance over to Philadelphia. For the amount of money that the Phillies’ spent on him, Moore could end up being a real steal for the team. It also helps having a lefty in the regular rotation, as the Phillies haven’t had a full season from a lefty starter since Adam Morgan debuted in 2016.
That isn’t the only move that the Phillies made to acquire starting depth, as they have struck a deal with free agent starter Chase Anderson, as reported by Fansided’s Robert Murray. While the numbers from last year are not inspiring at all (33.2 innings pitched with a 7.22 ERA), Anderson was one of the more durable and productive pitchers in baseball from 2014-2019. In that time, he pitched 857 innings to a 3.94 ERA and was only trips to the injured list were due to triceps tightness, oblique strain, and a laceration on his finger. Nothing, including the oblique strain last year, has had to do with his elbow or arm, so that’s good. The Anderson signing probably pushes Spencer Howard out of the rotation for the time being, but Howard will get his fair share of innings.
While the $4 million guarantee that they gave him was more than I had expected Anderson would get, the deal looks great compared to some of the others handed out this offseason. For both Anderson and Moore, the Phillies gave out $7 million in guaranteed money. Earlier this offseason, the Braves signed former Phillie Drew Smyly for $11 million. Statistically, Smyly and Anderson are very close, but Smyly’s 2020 performance is what got him that much money. Chris Archer signed with Tampa for $6.5 million, which is $500,000 less than what the Phillies have in BOTH pitchers. We talked at length about the importance of smart spending this offseason, and the Phillies seem to be allocating funds in a smart, but not restrictive, way.
In all likelihood, the Phillies still have a couple of moves to make in the bullpen. However, on paper, the pitching staff is in a much better place than it was last year. The bullpen could definitely still use some work, as Archie Bradley has been the only Major League deal handed out so far. That is not to say that’s the only addition in the bullpen, as the team has brought on a bunch of interesting vets on minor league deals as well, like Hector Rondon, Neftali Feliz, and David Paulino. Pair the moves made with the current make up of pitchers in the organization, and you already have the makings of a Top-15 bullpen in MLB.
Sure, Top-15 is not that impressive, but I would rather that than have a bullpen with an historically bad 7.06 ERA.
What started as an offseason to forget has quickly turned into an terrific start for the new front office. No one believes that the Phillies will be the best team in the league, but Dombrowski made it possible to compete for an NL East title this year. The NL East will be an absolute blood bath this year, but the Phillies are going to be involved.
Being a contender in what is shaping up to be the best division in all of baseball is certainly not something to scoff at. If the Phillies did somehow win the NL East, this new found pitching depth would likely be an integral part of it.