The 2020 season will feature household names returning to the bullpen. With plenty of young talent in the pipeline and several players approaching the downslope of their careers, we look at three potential pitchers who could make the Phillies roster.
First, let’s look at the veterans that are projected to be in the bullpen for the Phillies in 2020:
Nick Pivetta/Vince Velasquez
Theoretically, that leaves one or two spots open for someone to step into. Two guys on my list made their marks last year, while one is a newcomer on the rise. The Phillies will need to replace a lot of innings, with the departures of Juan Nicasio, Mike Morin, Jared Hughes, and Blake Parker, who all logged at least 20 innings out of the bullpen.
These suggestions are made keeping in mind that the Phillies just added three veteran relievers on minor league contracts, with invites to spring training (Drew Storen, Bud Norris, and Francisco Liriano), who will also be vying for spots on the roster.
Cole Irvin made his biggest impression in his first two major league starts, where he managed to pitch pretty well while not necessarily dominating. His role then transitioned to the bullpen, where he logged 24 innings in 13 games.
Irvin could slip into the Nicasio role of pitching at basically any part of the game, with a low walk% of 7.6% last season. He will have to show improvement in not giving up the long ball, where he struggled last year giving up 1.5 HR/9, and he won’t be expected to come in for high leverage situations.
All of Irvin’s numbers trended down (in a good way) as the season progressed, which leads me to believe that Irvin grew more comfortable in his relief role. Irvin’s experience as a starter would allow him to be stretched over multiple innings when needed, yet his mindset will need to be adjusted to pitching on a more regular basis.
The Phillies don’t need any more specialists or end-of-game pitchers, and Irvin would fit well in the middle reliever position.