Philadelphia Phillies 2018 season preview: RP Tommy Hunter

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Tommy Hunter #40 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait on February 20, 2018 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Tommy Hunter #40 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait on February 20, 2018 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /
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What kind of impact can free agent pick-up Tommy Hunter have on the Phillies season?

In the midst of a lazy offseason across baseball the Phillies have been among the most active teams in the free agent market. After returning Pat Neshek to the bullpen on a two-year deal the organization agreed on a two-year contract worth $18 million with 31-year-old reliever Tommy Hunter.

Bouncing between five teams in 10 seasons Hunter has a career 3.15 ERA in relief situations after beginning his career with Texas as a starter. Now entering his sixth year primarily as a relief pitcher Hunter has an ERA under three in three of his five years.

With the Phillies expected to carry eight or nine pitchers in their bullpen this year to counterbalance a questionable pitching staff, Hunter could see a bulk of work this season. No defined roles have been set in the rotation, but I would expect him to primarily pitch in the seventh inning with Neshek in the eighth and Hector Neris as the closer.

If the backend of the Phillies rotation can get through at least six innings the bullpen should be well-suited to lockdown the game.

Hunter and Neshek are expected to mentor a crop of young pitchers trying to establish themselves in the majors. Hoby Milner, Edubray Ramos, Victor Arano, Mark Leiter, Drew Anderson,  Adam Morgan, and other prospects who will rise through the minor leagues can benefit greatly from Hunter’s experience over the next two seasons.

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Hunter has pitched in at least 58 games in four of his last five seasons as a reliever. Considering the Phillies will have a deep bullpen with Neshek, Fernando Abad, Neris, and the young arms Hunter could appear in 55 games with an ERA a hair above three and 10 saves.