An experienced bullpen arm could give the Phillies a major boost
Phillies fans have endured the early phases of a rebuild where they’ve been the trade deadline sellers for six years, dating back to when they sent both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence off to California the same day.
This year has felt somewhat different after claiming first place for 24 hours and winning 15 games in both April and May has kept them above water in a choppy month of June.
June’s rocky start can be placed mostly on the offense having been shutout twice already this month. Much can also be thrown on the bullpen with four walk-offs allowed and Hector Neris is a major piece of that. Projected to be the closer moving forward Neris has lost three games and blown several games for the Phillies.
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Behind him the Phillies have had success with Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano, and Edubray Ramos. Dominguez has become a sort of long-set-up man going multiple innings and locking up opponents. Philadelphia is12-2 in games Dominguez pitches in, but he obviously can’t pitch every day.
Tommy Hunter has been inconsistent, Luis Garcia is a reoccurring mess, and we’re still waiting to see Pat Neshek come off the disabled list.
Even more troublesome are the issues dealt with by lefty Adam Morgan, the once-top prospect who’s now a converted reliever. He’s 0-2 this year with a 5.29 ERA and lefties are hitting .323 against him.
In short, the Phillies need another arm to lock down games late and secure much-needed wins.
The guy who can not only secure the back end of ballgames and also spare Morgan is Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres. Lefties have just two hits off Hand in 42 plate appearances this year, and righties are hitting .213 in 93 plate appearances.
Just 28-years-old Hand will be on the trade market with San Diego five-games below .500 this season. Hand signed a three-year $19.75 million contract with the Padres this offseason, so he’s locked into a deal that pays him modest money for a closer.
Jim Bowden of The Athletic suggests it could take a top prospect to get Hand from San Diego, similar to the Yankees receiving Gleyber Torres from the Cubs for Aroldis Chapman. It’s unlike the Phillies would deal top prospect Sixto Sanchez, who is on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, but one of their top hitters could be available.
Number one overall pick Mickey Monak and 2017 first round pick Adam Haseley are both hitting over .350 in their last 10 games for Clearwater. They aren’t as highly-touted as Torres, but they’re atop a solid Phillies farm system. Either could be cornerstone pieces for the Padres moving forward, but would the Phillies trade former first round picks for a reliever?
It’ll all depend on the asking price, but Hand’s dominance against lefties could catch the Phillies eye this summer.