Phillies: Buy-Low Left Handed Relief Options In Free Agency

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Oct 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Marc Rzepczynski (23) pitches during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Marc Rzepczynski (23) pitches during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the Phillies lack of reliable bullpen depth, and perhaps unwillingness to spend too big too soon in free agency, here are two buy-low left handers for the club to consider.

While it seems unlikely that GM Matt Klentak would completely flip the course for the Phillies, he can still flex some extra money this offseason, and chase some of the higher regarded buy-low candidates in free agency.

Let’s focus on the bullpen. Which finished third worst in baseball with a 5.05 ERA.

Related Story: Phillies 2016 Grades: Bullpen

Left Handed Trainwreck

The role of lefty specialist was a disaster for the Phillies in 2016. Not counting Bret Oberholtzer (had 4.83 ERA, but used as long man) – Phillies left handed relievers (Elvis Araujo, Daniel Stumpf, James Russell, Patrick Schuster) combined for a staggering 9.78 ERA and .297 batting average against (BAA) left-handed hitters. Tallying 38 strikeouts and 13 walks, in only 38.2 innings pitched.

Young lefty Joely Rodriguez showed some promise with his September call-up – in 9.2 innings of work posting a 2.79 ERA with seven strikeouts. However, Rodriguez is far from a finished product, and will more than likely start next season in the minors.

Needless to say, the team could use a few proven lefties out of the pen for 2017. Here are two buy-low candidates for Klentak and the Phils to consider:

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Marc Rzepczynski

Rzepczynski (pictured above), for his career has a .222 BAA versus left handed hitters, and from 2011-2014 he had a 3.40 ERA and averaged 8.2 strikeouts per 9 innings (SO/9), in 185.2 innings of work.

After a sloppy 2015 (5.66 ERA in 35 innings), he rebounded nicely in 2016 for the Oakland A’s and Washington Nationals. Posting a 2.64 ERA, while striking out 46 batters in 47.2 innings. He did struggles with command at times, walking a career high 29 batters since becoming a full-time reliever in 2011.

Brian Matusz

Matusz (pictured to right), is a familiar face to the Phillies current brass. He pitched for the Baltimore Orioles from 2009-2016 (Klentak and team president Andy Macphail were together in Baltimore from 2008 to 2011). A slow start to 2016 (12.00 ERA in 6 innings) led to a trade of Matusz to the Atlanta Braves in May.

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Apr 23, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (17) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

He was released by Atlanta after the trade and would sign with the Chicago Cubs two weeks later. Though, after just one start (allowing six earned runs in three innings) Matusz was designated for assignment by Chicago.

The Phillies (and every other team) will have zero interest in Matusz as a starter though. He’s simply terrible when asked to start (5.61 ERA in 69 starts).

However, for his career Matusz has a 3.47 ERA with 179 strikeouts in 171 innings of relief. But more importantly, a career .213 BAA versus lefties, as a starter or in relief.

Next: Phillies Offseason Target: OF Michael Saunders

Conclusion

The Phillies need help. Matt Klentak likes bargain moves. Rzepczynski and Matusz fit perfectly into this equation. Without a history of dominance from either pitcher, these are two very real options for the Phils. Guys that won’t hurt the payroll, but can help the team win.

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