Domínguez threw 21 pitches, 13 for strikes, and struck out two of the three hitters he faced in one inning of work.
The 26-year-old reliever last pitched in the majors in June 2019 and hasn’t pitched in a game since spring training 2020. Complications surrounding an elbow injury pushed back his decision to get Tommy John surgery until July of last year.
According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies hope that he can contribute to the major league club by September. Pitchers are allowed a maximum of 30 days during minor league rehab assignments, and Domínguez will likely need the majority of that time to reacclimate himself to the mound. His fastball, which reached 100 MPH prior to the surgery, reached the mid-90s in his outing Tuesday.
The Phillies could really use Seranthony Domínguez in the bullpen
Domínguez stormed into the majors in 2018 and turned heads with his powerful fastball and capable slider. He was scoreless in his first 12 big-league innings. He eventually forced the hand of then-manager Gabe Kapler into assigning him as the team’s closer but pitched effectively in all situations out of the bullpen. He had 17 appearances of more than one inning.
An August slump in which he allowed seven runs within a span of recording 14 outs inflated his stat line, but he still finished the season with a 2.95 ERA, 16 saves, and a .93 WHIP.
Domínguez struggled with consistency, the true hallmark of a relief pitcher, early in 2019 before being sidelined with the elbow issues.
How likely is Seranthony Domínguez’s return to the Phillies this season?
The prospect of Domínguez’s return to the Phillies bullpen in 2021 sounds enticing on the surface. Manager Joe Girardi might give him a shot in September if the team is still competing for the National East pennant because of the undeniable raw ability that he brings to the mound.
However, Domínguez has never been a consistently reliable option for the Phillies over a long stretch of time. The expectation that he could come into the bullpen late in the season coming off a major injury without pitching in over two years and make significant contributions to a playoff-bound team is lofty, to say the least.
The Phillies bullpen has suffered extreme futility for the majority of the time since Domínguez last pitched in the majors. They did acquire veteran Ian Kennedy before the MLB trade deadline last week with the expectation that he will solidify the closer’s role. However, the rotating cast led by Hector Neris, Archie Bradley, and Jose Alverado has struggled in high-leverage situations this season, and Kennedy has struggled since the trade; before coming to the Phillies, he had a 2.51 ERA in 32 games with Texas. Since joining the Phillies, his ERA has ballooned to 3.41 after only two games.
A late-season return for Domínguez is still worth considering if the opportunity to activate him does ultimately present itself. Given his incredibly high ceiling as a major league reliever, and the Phillies’ bullpen woes, he should at least be considered.