Phillies 2020 Player Grades: Brandon Workman, David Phelps

Brandon Workman #44, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brandon Workman #44, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Grading the 2020 season for the two biggest Phillies trade acquisitions — Brandon Workman and David Phelps

The Phillies bullpen was bad in 2019. They finished in the bottom half of the National League in ERA, FIP, and fWAR. Even worse, they finished second-to-last in home runs allowed per nine innings (HR/9). The only team with a higher HR/9 was the Colorado Rockies — who played half of their games in the home run-friendly Coors Field.

General manager Matt Klentak chose not to significantly improve the bullpen over the 2019-2020 offseason. Only three relievers acquired last offseason pitched for the Phillies in 2020: Trevor Kelley (3 1/3 IP, 10.80 ERA), Deolis Guerra (7 1/3 IP, 8.59 ERA), and Reggie McClain (5 1/3 IP, 5.06 ERA).

None of these signings did anything to improve the bullpen situation in Philadelphia (although, technically, McClain’s ERA was lower than the Phillies collective 7.06 bullpen ERA). When something is bad and you do nothing to change it, chances are it will remain that way. And that’s exactly what happened.

Thus, Klentak had no choice but to acquire some relievers ahead of the August 31, 2020, trade deadline — despite having few tradeable assets and still needing to stay under the luxury tax. The best he could do was Brandon Workman and David Phelps from the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, respectively.

Klentak also acquired David Hale (New York Yankees) and Heath Hembree (Red Sox), but the Workman and Phelps additions were made for them to pitch high-leverage innings. Unfortunately, both trades yielded extremely poor results; neither pitcher had much success in red pinstripes.