Phillies 2017 Season Preview: Starting (Relief?) Pitcher Adam Morgan

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Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Adam Morgan (39) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Adam Morgan (39) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Adam Morgan will be hard-pressed to find a roster spot this season with the Phillies, but his left-handedness could save his career.

Adam Morgan‘s time in a Phillies uniform has not gone very well. The 27-year old has a 5.37 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 197.2 innings over the last two seasons. His appearances have mostly come when other pitchers fell out of the rotation due to injury.

2016 was especially rough for Morgan, as he finished the year with just 0.6 fWAR despite pitching 113.1 innings. He gave up home runs on 16.3% of the fly balls he allowed, which is beyond awful according to Fangraphs.

This spring training Morgan knows he has to show some signs of life if he wants to stay a major-leaguer. Philadelphia’s rotation is locked up and there are several pitching prospects making their way to the major-leagues.

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“You just have to take it one day at a time and check your ego at the door,” Morgan told Matt Breen of Philly.com. “You’re never solidified into a spot. I just come in and try to do the best that I can.”

Morgan’s avenue to the roster may have to come through the bullpen. Philadelphia is notably lacking in left-handed pitchers, and Morgan is just that. The team also needs a long reliever, and Morgan has the stamina to be that thanks to his time as a starter.

Before Morgan can make his way into the bullpen, he still has to prove there is something in the tank. Manager Pete Mackanin talked with Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly about what he and pitching coach Bob McClure want to see from Morgan:

"“He kind of pitched backward today, which I think he’s going to have to do to be successful. He showed us he can do that so that was encouraging. He upset the timing of hitters. That’s why he was effective. I want to see him a few more times. He needs to pitch the remainder of the spring the way he pitched today.”"

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Even with his left-handedness, Morgan’s path to the bullpen is by no means clear. The Phils brought in switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to add some extra competition to the bullpen battle. In addition, Alec Asher, Luis Garcia, Cesar Ramos, and Sean Burnett are all trying to push for that final bullpen spot.

If Morgan can’t make his way to the major-league bullpen, he could become a victim of the roster crunch. Most expect non-roster invitee Brock Stassi to be the team’s backup first baseman/outfielder.

Someone will have to be removed from the 40-man roster in order to make room for Stassi. Morgan could be the one taken off the 40-man roster if he can’t make his way onto the major-league team.

In the event Morgan does make the team as a relief pitcher, he would serve as the team’s second left-handed reliever and the long reliever. He is also able to make a spot start for the team should they need it, even if it isn’t the most glamorous of options.

Next: Phillies 2017 Season Preview: Catching Prospect Jorge Alfaro

However, if Morgan can’t find his way onto the major-league roster, his 2017 season will be determined by whether or not he remains on the 40-man roster. If he stays on, he could very well stay in the same role he had in 2016 and be promoted if and when someone gets injured. On the other hand, if he is removed and placed on waivers, he could wind up with another team or become Triple-A farm fodder in Philly’s minor-league system.

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