Grading the 2020 season of Phillies relievers Heath Hembree and David Hale.
The Phillies acquired four relievers ahead of the 2020 season trade deadline — Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Boston Red Sox, David Hale from the New York Yankees, and David Phelps from the Milwaukee Brewers.
General manager Matt Klentak made the deals because most Phillies bullpen relievers proved to be incapable of pitching in the Major Leagues. The Phillies were running out of options.
Hembree and Hale weren’t stars, but they both had significant MLB experience and had some success at the big-league level for their previous teams. The Phillies did not ask them to be great; they just needed them to be adequate. Here’s how they performed.
Hembree came over to Philadelphia as the second piece acquired from the Red Sox in the deal that sent Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold to the Red Sox. While Workman was the centerpiece of the deal, the club valued Hembree as well.
From 2013-2019, Heath Hembree pitched out of the bullpen in 249 games and had a 3.52 ERA. While he never had a standout season (like Workman’s 2019), and although his underlying numbers were never as impressive as his ERA, he had proved himself capable of pitching in a Major League bullpen.
Unfortunately, Hembree had the worst season of his career in 2020. He posted a 12.54 ERA and never managed to string together consecutive outings without allowing a run. His advanced stats were awful, too. He had a 13.05 FIP, a 279 ERA, and even his xFIP was an atrocious 6.60.
Hold on, though, because it gets worse. He finished the season with -0.8 fWAR in 11 games for the Phils. That was the worst fWAR on the entire team. Not only that, but it’s the worst fWAR for a Phillies pitcher since Brad Lidge put up -0.8 fWAR in 2009. And Lidge pitched 67 games that year. Hembree pitched just 11.
When the Phils acquired Hembree, they hoped to keep him under team control for 2021 as well. However, he pitched so poorly in 2020 that the Phillies decided to part ways with him early this offseason.
HEATH HEMBREERHP, Philadelphia Phillies
There isn’t anything positive to say about Hembree’s 2020 season; he was among the worst relief pitchers in all of baseball. He had the highest FIP, the highest HR/9, the second-highest ERA, and the lowest fWAR among all major league relievers.