The Phillies season has been anything but a success this year. However, with all the disappointment over the first third of the season, the team sits just four games back of the Mets for first place.
To be in their current position while playing lackluster baseball for most of the year is actually encouraging. Like many of the Phillies games this season, the NL East has been absolutely abysmal this year. Each team seems to have had their fair share of crappy situations, whether it is inconsistent offense/pitching or injuries.
The Phillies, along with every other team in the division, are in a good place to make some moves with a strong second half. Not only can the Phillies utilize the upcoming trade deadline to fill holes, but they can also use some of the pieces they already have. I am sure that Dave Dombrowski is looking for any way to improve the team right now.
One of the moves that DD and Joe Girardi should be considering is moving Bailey Falter into the rotation full time.
Falter has been in the Phillies bullpen for the last week. The idea coming up was that he would be the ‘piggyback’ pitcher for Spencer Howard. Combining efforts from Howard and Falter would act as the fifth starter for the Phils. If only it had worked as well in reality as it does in theory.
Howard, however, has been a disappointment to start his season. His inconsistency has been his downfall, struggling to carry his velocity through an entire start. It seems that once he throws 50-60 pitches, he loses about four to five mph on his fastball. It is hard for a pitcher with the profile of Howard to deal with that in real time. He is a power pitcher, using his pure stuff to get batters out. Once he loses the velocity, his pitching immaturity shows. He hasn’t been pitching in the rotation long, so he is still learning how to pitch.
The Chino Hills native had to learn how to pitch effectively early on, as he wasn’t blessed with Howard’s pure stuff. For most of his minor league career, Falter has sat 88-90 with his fastball, backed by average secondary pitches. In a game that has put so much emphasis on velocity, he didn’t really fit. That didn’t stop him from putting up good numbers in the MiLB, with a 3.06 ERA in 411.1 innings. His lack of special stuff forced him to learn how to pitch earlier on, and that certainly helped him reach the Bigs.
Little did anyone know that he would get the little extra velocity he needed to have a successful MLB career.
There were rumors this offseason that Falter had increased his velocity, but there wasn’t any evidence to see it. In Triple A, where he absolutely dominated, he started to show that increase, sitting in the 90-93 mph range. It didn’t stop there, though. During his relief outing this week against the Giants, Falter was sitting at 92 mph and he struck out Buster Posey with a 95 mph heater.
For years, people who cover the Phillies system have been been mesmerized by Falter. The talent was absolutely there, but sitting in the high 80’s would make it hard for him to succeed. Somehow, someway, he found the velocity that he lacked, making his prospect profile different than who he was for most of his Minors career.
A pitcher with Falter’s mechanics doesn’t need to be throwing in the high 90’s to be effective. As seen on that above picture, the extension he gets on his pitches is extremely high. He has a huge stride on the mound, meaning that he can release the pitch closer to the plate. With his extension off the rubber, it will add around 2 mph of perceived velocity to his pitches. So, that final pitch to Posey looked like it was 97 mph, like Mitch Rupert said.
Personally, I think that Falter starting gives the Phillies a better chance to win than Howard or even Vince Velasquez. With his increased velocity comes increased confidence, and Falter definitely has confidence when he toes the rubber.
The Phillies will eventually have to acquire another arm for the rotation, but giving Falter some run should only help the team. Either send Howard to the bullpen as the long man and DFA David Hale (I know, he’s still on the team), or send him down to Triple A for more work. Either way, I think Falter has earned his spot in the rotation with his performance this season.
Plus, the team needs another pitcher with flowing locks since Jojo Romero just had Tommy John surgery.