Newest bullpen arm makes the Phillies look like geniuses after his much-needed debut

Right-hander Ricardo Pinto was called up just hours before Tuesday night's game, but he came in and delivered. It was just what the Phillies bullpen needed after a tough start to the season.

Apr 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Ricardo Pinto
Apr 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Ricardo Pinto / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

When one door closes, another one opens.

After Connor Brogdon’s less-than-stellar start to the season, the Phillies designated him for assignment and called up right-handed reliever Ricardo Pinto — a roster move that paid off immediately and made the front office look good.

Phillies fans might remember Pinto from his first stint with the Phillies all the way back in 2017 when he appeared in 25 games and threw a total of 29 2/3 innings. That would make it six years and 194 days between appearances with the Phillies. According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, it’s the longest gap between appearances by a Phillies player since Marlon Byrd (8 years, 322 days) from 2005 to 2014.

Since the 2017 season, Pinto had only appeared in two major league games, for the Tampa Bay Rays, and jumped around to a number of different foreign leagues and minor league affiliates.

But he found his way back to Philadelphia, signing a minor league deal in February, and he was a sight for sore eyes on Tuesday night.

Just hours after being called up, the 30-year-old came into the game in the sixth inning to relieve starter Spencer Turnbull after a terrific five innings. Pinto immediately went to work, showcasing his 90-92 mph sinker and his 83-84 mph splitter. In his first inning of work, he induced a weak ground ball and struck out two batters on splitters that made the batters look silly.

Manager Rob Thomson showed even more faith in Pinto and, with the score still tight, sent him out for a second inning. He surrendered a single but went on to pitch a scoreless seventh inning. The floodgates then opened up for the Phillies offense, and Thomson entrusted Pinto to close out the game in the eighth and ninth. Pinto recorded his first career major league save while giving up five hits and two earned runs, walking zero batters and striking out four over four gritty innings.

It was an incredible outing for a guy who reportedly showed up to the game in the middle of the fourth inning, according to The Athletic's Matt Gelb. With the help of Turnbull and Bryce Harper’s offensive explosion, Pinto provided much-needed rest and relief to a pitching staff that has struggled and been working hard over the first four games of the season. It was exactly what the doctor ordered after watching the implosion from Brogdon the night before.

Whether or not Pinto ends up becoming a high-leverage pitcher or if he even sticks on the roster for the long haul remains to be seen. But he provides the Phillies organization much-needed flexible depth that will surely end up being extremely valuable to this team throughout the season.

manual