Jake Diekman a low-risk, high-reward option for the Phillies
A reunion for the Phillies and their former set-up man only makes sense for both sides this offseason
After signing David Robertson to a two-year contract the Phillies are likely done making major additions to their bullpen. Adding a veteran reliever for the back-end of the bullpen like Robertson takes Philadelphia out of the race for Craig Kimbrel and Cody Allen.
While major additions are unlikely at this point the Phillies still have room to tinker with their bullpen before spring training and opening day.
One player they should consider is Jake Diekman, once a steady arm in their bullpen.
Drafted by the Phillies in the 30th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, Diekman came up in 2012 and put up very good numbers. In his first 150 games over three seasons, the lefty struck out 176 batters and gave up only six home runs.
Diekman was shipped to Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, where he stayed until last year’s trade deadline when the Diamondbacks acquired him.
Unfortunately, Diekman battled ulcerative colitis and underwent colon surgery, limiting him to 11 games in 2017. He returned to pitch in 71 games last year, but his ERA took a major hit in Arizona and he finished the year at 4.73 between Texas and Arizona.
Where Diekman has always been strong are strikeouts, having more than innings pitched in every season of his career.
After opting to pay Robertson over lefty Zach Britton the Phillies are left with more questions than answers in their bullpen from the left-hand side. They bring back Adam Morgan and Austin Davis (though Davis isn’t on the 40-man roster) from last year and added James Pazos in the Jean Segura trade.
Diekman is a potential bounce-back candidate now two years removed from his first surgery. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported at the trade deadline last year the Phillies were interested in a reunion with Diekman, but they instead acquired Aaron Loup from Toronto, a major disappointment.
Diekman likely won’t cost much after making $2.7125 million last year after arbitration and coming off the worst season of his career. The Phillies don’t have an established lefty who can get big strikeouts late in games, and Diekman can bring that back to Philadelphia.