What Can Correia Do For the Phillies?


In all of the hustle and bustle this week, you may have missed the Earth-shattering announcement coming out of Citizens Bank Park: your Philadelphia Phillies have signed 34-year old pitcher Kevin Correia to a major league contract.

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Correia is basically what you would see if you were to look up the term “replacement level” in the baseball dictionary. With a career 4.59 ERA, 87 ERA+, and 3.7 rWAR in just over 1,400 innings, he has been neither outstanding (though he did get an All-Star appearance in 2011), nor has he been horrendous.

The righthander will provide depth for the team’s pitching staff, beginning with his first start on Friday night in Pittsburgh. The possibility exists that the front office is tired of Jerome Williams not being able to make it past the 5th inning, or they are weary of Severino Gonzalez doing his best impression of a Christmas tree on December 25th.

So, what is Correia likely to bring to the table? According to Brooks Baseball, he is mostly a sinker/cutter pitcher who will mix in a changeup and a curve. Taking a deeper look (we have to rely on 2014 and prior data, since he hasn’t thrown a major league pitch yet in 2015), it seems as though his best out-pitch is the curve ball. Opposing batters have only mustered a .242 average against it, with a .360 SLG.

Correia has thrown his fourseam fastball more than any other pitch in his career, and that has also been the one that gets him in trouble, since batters hit that the hardest (.464 SLG). Looking here, it’s obvious why batters hit the fourseamer hardest –  Correia has a tough time throwing it low in the zone:

As mentioned before, his curveball is the one pitch that hitters have the most trouble with, and his placement of the pitch shows why:

The numbers above reveal a pitch with decent effectiveness. One possible goal for pitching coach Bob McClure could be the sequencing of Correia’s pitches. Getting him to pitch backwards and use his more effective pitches (curveball, changeup, cutter) could help Correia locate that previous “All-Star” form once again.

This signing is not going to propel the Phillies to the playoffs. It won’t even propel them to a .500 record. What it should do is bolster the depth of the organization ahead of the trading deadline.

No one should confuse that statement with an impending Cole Hamels trade, because it does not mean that is imminent. It does mean that Ruben Amaro appears to be building up options. There will probably be a domino effect here, with Gonzalez headed back to Lehigh Valley.

That makes the current rotation Hamels, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Sean O’Sullivan and Correia. However, with Gonzalez and Chad Billingsley in the wings, Amaro has freedom to trade pieces without having to a) send people to the mound who aren’t ready, and b) start service clocks of key future pieces.

If Correia comes in and pitches effectively, he could become a trade piece. After all, he was given a 2-year, $10 million deal by the Los Angeles Dodgers for a reason. There is some talent here, at least as a rotation depth piece.

This is another decent move by Amaro. Nothing he has done since the offseason has blocked anyone of importance to the future, and that should continue to be his primary goal. Make sure when the kids are ready, they have a space ready and waiting for them, while still having experienced arms to eat up the innings that must be pitched this year.