Phillies: 3 Rays trade targets to keep an eye on this series

Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Collin McHugh #31 of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

2. Collin McHugh

Among the glaring holes on the the Phillies roster is back-end rotation depth, and in turn long-relief depth. The Phillies thought that they would have Vince Velasquez at their disposal if needed to eat innings following a short start from either Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Matt Moore, or Chase Anderson.

However, neither Moore nor Anderson have worked out so far, resulting in manager Joe Girardi having to use Velasquez — and even top pitching prospect Spencer Howard — in the rotation in their place.

Nine-year veteran Collin McHugh not only has experience starting, but also pitching out of the bullpen. The 2017 World Series champion went 58-35 with a 3.63 ERA in 195 games and 110 starts for the Houston Astros between 2014 and 2019. After opting out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic, McHugh is now with the Rays and has posted a 4.02 ERA and 1.404 WHIP ratio, while striking out 23 batters and walking just six, through 15 2/3 innings this season.

On Thursday, McHugh pitched a scoreless ninth inning en route to a 7-2 Rays win against the Kansas City Royals. He struck out two of his five batters faced, while tossing 27 pitches and 19 strikes.

If the Phillies do make the postseason somehow in 2021, McHugh would provide valuable experience. In the 2018 postseason opposite the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, McHugh pitched a combined four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out five batters. In the 2017 World Series, McHugh had a 13.50 ERA, but helped the Astros to the Fall Classic by tossing four scoreless innings in that year’s ALCS against Joe Girardi‘s New York Yankees.