Phillies Bobby LaFromboise Shining in Early Going

26 Feb 2016: Reliever LaFromboise during the Phillies Photo Day workout at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire)
26 Feb 2016: Reliever LaFromboise during the Phillies Photo Day workout at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire) /

The Philadelphia Phillies have a wide open battle for bullpen roles in the coming 2016 season.

Here at TBOH we have been presenting a series covering the pitchers who are in the running for those bullpen spots. During the off-season, David Mosemann reviewed some of the key holdover candidates from last year. Now during spring training, Mike Azzalina is looking at some of the veteran newcomers brought in to compete for spots.

One of those newcomers, lefty Bobby LaFromboise, has been making some serious noise during the first two weeks of Grapefruit League action. The Phillies selected LaFromboise off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim back on January 29th, a move that spurred the release of former top draft pick Jesse Biddle.

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Less than two weeks later, just before pitchers and catchers were due to report for the start of spring training at Bright House Field in Clearwater, LaFromboise was designated for assignment by the Phillies after the club dealt for infielder Tyler Featherston.

LaFromboise cleared waivers, and was assigned to the Phillies minor league organization with an invitation to spring training. At least to this point, the Phillies have to be grateful that no other team had the prescience to, or room on their roster to give a solid lefty a shot.

In this afternoon’s 9-2 victory over the host Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the lefty shined on the mound. Starter David Buchanan had given up two earned runs on four hits over his two innings pitched, but had also been staked to a 7-2 lead thanks to a Phillies’ offensive barrage.

Manager Pete Mackanin brought LaFromboise in at that point, hoping that he could hold the lead. As he has all spring to this point, the lefty obliged. Over two shutout innings, LaFromboise allowed no hits and walked just one while striking out three Braves batters.

The Phillies then scored two runs in the top of the 5th to pretty much seal the deal on the afternoon. That was all the scoring as James Russell, Edward Mujica, Edubray Ramos, Greg Infante, and Elvis Araujo each tossed a shutout inning to close the game out.

The two shutout innings kept LaFromboise’ ERA perfect at 0.00, and his WHIP is now at the 0.33 mark. He has allowed no hits, walked two batters, and stuck out six over a half-dozen innings thus far.

Fellow newcomer Russell and the holdover Araujo are also left-handers battling for a spot in the bullpen. If current starting pitcher Brett Oberholtzer is beaten out by someone such as Buchanan, Adam Morgan, or Vincent Velasquez for the 5th starter role, he would likely make the big club as a reliever, since Oberholtzer has no minor league options remaining.

LaFromboise features a funky, dropdown/sidearm style delivery that, if his results continue to be this effective, could separate him from the other lefty pen options. Russell, Ramos, and Daniel Stumpf are also all throwing well to this point, and all are lefties.

While it is still early, the results are encouraging. There is tremendous competition for those 2016 Phillies bullpen openings. Perhaps once considered a longshot, the 29-year old LaFromboise, who has passed through five MLB organizations over the last two years, now has as good a shot as anyone to come north with the team for the regular season.

Next: First Base Battle Taking an Interesting Turn