Bailey Falter’s role could diminish following Phillies pitching acquisitions.
Although he was considered nothing more than pitching depth after a troublesome rookie season, Bailey Falter transformed into a reliable starter for the Philadelphia Phillies this year. While he did not have a consistent spot in the rotation until July, he made it count when he did pitch.
Falter’s second-half ERA was only 3.38, surrendering nine walks in 56 innings pitched. It was a clear improvement from his 5.61 ERA in 2021 as a long reliever. The Phillies won 11 of the 16 games he started, which shows how much he contributed down the stretch for them. He did not have a long leash with manager Rob Thomson — averaging a meager 74.5 pitches and 4.8 innings per start.
Falter’s makeup as a pitcher is not what you would typically see from a 25-year-old. He is a finesse left-hander with an abnormal arm slot and a deadly slow curveball. Falter’s fastball — which he threw 64.2 percent of the time — averaged just 91.2 miles per hour on the radar gun. Falter’s 8.3 K/9 contradicts his below-average velocity, emphasizing how good his off-speed stuff is.
There is no doubt that Falter was a pleasant surprise to the Phillies organization last season. However, the question is whether he has a long-term role in Philadelphia. With Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker, and Ranger Suarez in the mix, there lacks room for Falter to expand on his 2022 responsibilities.
Falter’s peripherals certainly do not better his case. Although his stats on the surface were exceptional, his 31.7 percent groundball rate is concerning. A good pitcher who throws in the low 90s usually induces lots of ground balls and avoids line drives, but Falter does the exact opposite. For context, a good groundball pitcher typically forces at least 50 percent ground balls. Additionally, his 4.65 FIP suggests we could see some regression in 2023.
Falter will be among the contenders for the Phillies’ fifth starter spot, but they might look elsewhere within the organization — such as top prospect Andrew Painter. We could see Falter used as an injury replacement, or slotted into the bullpen as a long reliever to provide the Phillies with quality relief innings. No matter his role next year, fans should see Falter in some capacity in the early stages of the regular season.