Phillies 2024 Season Preview: RHP Nick Nelson

Nelson is coming off an injury-riddled 2023 season and is projected to see a bit more time with the Phillies in 2024. Can he avoid playing in the minor leagues for most of the year?
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Nick Nelson
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Nick Nelson / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Up next in our Philadelphia Phillies 2024 Season Preview is relief pitcher Nick Nelson.

Previous season previews: José Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti, Alec Bohm, Connor Brogdon, Nick Castellanos, Rodolfo Castro, Kody Clemens, Jake Cave, Dylan Covey, Seranthony Domínguez, Darick Hall, Kolby Allard, Bryce Harper, Jeff Hoffman, Orion Kerkering, Rafael Marchán, Brandon Marsh, Yunior Marté, Diego Castillo, Michael Mercado, McKinley Moore, Max Castillo

We'll start with a brief look at Nelson's 2023 performance and then see where he might end up this season using the Steamer and ZiPS projection systems, which can be found on FanGraphs.

Nick Nelson 2023 stats and 2024 projections

2023 Stats: 1 G, 5.1 IP, 1-0 record, 1.69 ERA, 5.69 FIP, 0.75 WHIP, 3 SO, 2 BB

2024 Steamer: 25 G, 32 IP, 2-2 record, 4.61 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 1.45 WHIP, 24 SO, 13 BB, 0.1 fWAR

2024 ZiPS DC: 25 G, 30 IP, 1-2 record, 5.30 ERA, 4.92 FIP, 1.51 WHIP, 24 SO, 13 BB, 0.1 fWAR

Nick Nelson 2024 season preview

Nick Nelson, 28, hardly appeared in a Phillies uniform during the 2023 season after spending time with the team the season before last. In 2022, the right-hander appeared in 47 contests, two of them as a starter with Philadelphia. He had a 3-2 record, 4.85 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 36 walks, and 69 strikeouts.

In 2023, Nelson spent time on the IL with a hamstring strain in March. He only played in one game with the Phillies last year. The 28-year-old participated in 25 contests combined in the minor leagues with the Clearwater Threshers, Reading Fightin Phils, and Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He played 20 of the 25 games with Lehigh Valley.

The former 2016 fourth-round draft pick of the New York Yankees pitched in 115 innings, went 7-3 and finished with a 3.83 ERA. He had a 1.39 WHIP, 43 walks, 49 earned runs, and 92 strikeouts. All his wins and losses came with the IronPigs. His K/9 in Lehigh Valley was 5.06, and his BB/9 was 3.38.

Nelson is not a lock to be a regular in the Phillies bullpen

Steamer and ZiPS DC both predict Nelson will only pitch in 23 games this season. His innings pitched will be 30 by Steamer and 28 by ZiPS. Last year, there wasn't much room in the Phillies bullpen. He'll see more time with the team in 2024 but isn't projected to be relied upon as much as some of the more talented relievers on the club, such as José Alvarado, Gregory Soto, and Matt Strahm.

Nelson relies on four pitches in his arsenal: changeup, four-seamer, sinker, and slider, according to Baseball Savant. He uses his changeup the most at 37.7 percent, followed by his four-seamer (31.9 percent), sinker (24.6 percent), and slider (5.8 percent).

Steamer projects his K/9 innings to be 6.74, while ZiPS DC projects it to be a bit higher at 7.20. The former also totals a lower BB/9 at 3.78 than the latter, which is 4.00. His WHIP is projected to be at 1.45 using Steamer, compared to 1.51 using ZiPS DC. His FIP is projected to be at 4.90 using Steamer and 4.92 with ZiPS DC.

Nelson's keys to success and fellow competitors in 2024

A combination of excelling in his pitching opportunities, remaining healthy, and multiple injuries to other relievers represents his best chance to remain on the Phillies roster this season. Nelson will be competing with several right-handers during spring training.

Connor Brogdon, Max Castillo, Dylan Covey, Orion Kerkering, Yunior Marte, Michael Mercado, McKinley Moore, Kaleb Ort, Luis Ortiz, and Michael Rucker are Nelson's competitors who are aiming to begin the regular season in the majors. Seranthony Domínguez and Jeff Hoffman are good enough that they will pitch regularly for Philly.