Phillies 2024 Season Preview: RHP Dylan Covey

Reliever Dylan Covey is looking to build off a strong end to 2023 and solidify a spot in the 2024 Phillies bullpen.
Dylan Covey, Philadelphia Phillies
Dylan Covey, Philadelphia Phillies / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The next player in our Philadelphia Phillies 2024 Season Preview Series is reliever Dylan Covey.

Previous season previews: José Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti, Alec Bohm, Connor Brogdon, Nick Castellanos, Rodolfo Castro, Kody Clemens, Jake Cave

We'll start by digging into Covey’s 2023 season and then take a look at how he's projected to do in 2024 using FanGraphs' Steamer and ZiPS projection systems.

Dylan Covey 2023 stats and 2024 projections

2023 Stats: 29 G, 43 IP, 1-3 record, 3.77 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 1.51 WHIP, 30 SO, 17 BB, 0.0 fWAR

2024 Steamer: 55 G, 55 IP, 3-3 record, 4.30 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.40 WHIP, 46 SO, 21 BB, 0.2 fWAR

2024 ZiPS: 28 G, 41.3 IP, 2-2 record, 5.44 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, 26 SO, 16 BB, -0.1 fWAR

Dylan Covey 2024 Season Preview

Dylan Covey, the 32-year-old righty, will look to build off his late-season success from last year to start 2024. After a shaky start to the year, pitching coach Caleb Cotham was able to work with Covey to get the most out of his talent.

When Covey was claimed off waivers by the Phillies in May 2023, his first month of appearances wasn't ideal. He ended May with a 7.45 ERA, and it’s fair to say most fans dreaded seeing him run in from the bullpen. But as the year progressed and he became more comfortable in his role, Covey became a real asset.

His best stretch came from Aug. 26 to his final regular season appearance on Sept. 27, allowing just one earned run over 12 innings while striking out seven batters and not allowing a home run. He lowered his ERA to a respectable 3.77 and was seen as a mostly reliable option.

Covey projected to add value to the team ... maybe

From a high-level overview, his 2023 year was relatively successful. He wasn't a high-leverage arm, but he performed when he had to. He ended the year with a high 4.70 FIP and a WHIP of 1.51. His 2024 projections align with his 2023 year but with an inflated ERA that coincides more with his projected FIP and WHIP.

Steamer projects the right-hander to add a positive value in 2024. Despite elevated baseline numbers, Covey projects to have a 0.2 fWAR. For a low-leverage, early-inning or mop-up role, that's great value to have on any MLB roster.

His ZiPS projections aren’t as kind, with higher ratios. ZiPS expects Covey to record a 5.44 ERA, a 5.19 FIP, and a relatively similar WHIP of 1.48. ZiPS isn’t as confident that Covey will provide much value and expects a negative fWAR of -0.1. If the reliever performs closer to these numbers, it may be difficult for the Phillies to justify keeping him on the big league roster.

Covey needs weak contact and ground balls

Covey is a ground ball pitcher and relies on his sinker to keep the opposition at bay. Throwing his sinker 41.4 percent of the time, his 53.5 percent ground ball rate is in the upper echelon of pitchers in all of baseball. During his month-long run at the end of the season, he ran a 62.2 percent ground ball rate.

On the flip side, his strikeout and whiff rates, 15.7 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively, were near the bottom of the league.

With a low 4.2 percent barrel rate, Covey relies heavily on coaxing weak contact and banking on good defense behind him. It's a dangerous game to play because the Phillies defense hasn’t been known to be stellar over the last few years. It’s come back to bite Covey, evidenced by his .288 xBA and .314 BABIP last season.

The majority of the bullpen is set for 2024. However, there are at least two open spots, and Covey will be battling for one. A number of relievers on the fringe of the roster will go into spring training with high hopes of making the Opening Day roster, and Covey has as good a chance as any of them. He has proven he can handle his role sufficiently, and who knows, maybe he can earn Rob Thomson's trust to take on even more.

More Philadelphia Phillies news and analysis