New Phillies pitcher is ready for his ‘Comeback szn’

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 21: Kent Emanuel #0 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Globe Life Field on May 21, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 21: Kent Emanuel #0 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Globe Life Field on May 21, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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Kent Emanuel is ready to make a ‘comeback’ with the Phillies in 2022

There are many reasons to hate the MLB lockout, but for a lot of players, it’s that they have something to prove, and they’re angling to do so.

Kent Emanuel hasn’t pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies yet, but he’s proudly posting his progress as he readies himself for “#ComeBackSZN” in 2022.

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The Phillies claimed Emanuel off waivers from the Houston Astros before the lockout. While the 29-year-old was rehabbing from debut-season-ending UCL surgery (but not Tommy John surgery), the Astros placed him on waivers.

Needless to say, Emanuel feels like he has something to prove to his new team, as well as his former team.

After turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010 to go to college, the southpaw was drafted a second time by the Astros in the third round of the 2013 June Amateur Draft. He came into his second draft as a college star who’d pitched in the 2011 College World Series as a freshman and again in the 2013 event.

A failed PEDs test in June 2020 sidelined Emanuel for 80 games, though it’s questionable, as only the smallest trace amounts of a banned substance were found in his positive test. As a result – no pun intended – Emanuel did not make his big-league debut until April 2021.

Over 10 relief appearances before his surgery, he compiled a 2.55 ERA and 0.906 WHIP. His debut was not the typical relief appearance; after the game’s starter, Jake Odorizzi was pulled after facing one batter, Emanuel took the mound for the first time. The first batter he faced was the eventual 2020 AL MVP, Shohei Ohtani.

He’d end up staying out there for the remainder of the game, pitching 8 2/3 innings and only allowed two earned runs (solo homers to Albert Pujols and Ohtani) on five hits, striking out five, and walking none. And all of that only took him 90 pitches.

Emanuel shows a lot of promise. He isn’t a big strikeout guy, but he also only walked four batters this season, a welcome change from the majority of Phillies’ bullpen arms who issue far too many. Besides, a pitcher doesn’t have to throw a lot of strikeouts to be effective.

While picking up players mid-rehab is always a gamble, Emanuel has some solid stuff, as well as a chip on his shoulder. He’s also still technically a rookie, which puts him under club control for a long time. If he can back up the #ComeBackSZN hashtag on the mound, the Phillies will look like geniuses.

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