Phillies reliever comes up big early in spring training after being cut from 40-man roster

Andrew Bellatti, despite pitching in the 2022 World Series for the Phillies, is off the 40-man roster but is still fighting for a bullpen job this season.

Philadelphia Phillies reliever Andrew Bellatti starts spring training strong in bid for a bullpen job
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Andrew Bellatti starts spring training strong in bid for a bullpen job / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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The Philadelphia Phillies spent the weeks leading up to spring training building up the depth of the system in preparation for the long, 162-game grind of the season. The front office was busy wheeling and dealing, mainly making minor moves, and in the process, some players got shuffled around and bumped from the 40-man roster.

One of the casualties of the flurry of acquisitions was reliever Andrew Bellatti. The right-hander was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Michael Rucker, who came over from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for cash considerations. Bellatti, who has pitched 79 innings for the Phillies over the past two seasons, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley but was invited to major league camp.

Now, Bellatti finds himself in a fight for the few remaining bullpen roles up for grabs this season. Luckily for him, he has started on the right foot this spring.

Bellatti has impressed in his early spring training action

So far, in his brief spring training Grapefruit League action, Bellatti has impressed in the competitive race for the final two bullpen spots the team has available heading toward Opening Day. It’s only been two innings over a couple of games, but the 32-year-old has yet to give up a hit or walk against six batters, recording one strikeout and a 2.53 FIP.

In his first outing, in the Phillies' first Grapefruit League game, Bellatti worked in all three of his pitches (five fastballs, three sliders, and one changeup), only needing nine pitches to get through his inning of work against the Toronto Blue Jays. His velocity and spin rates were just slightly down from last year's average, and seeing as how it was his first game, there's no cause for concern. However, it is worth noting his slider had the biggest drop of 2.7 mph.

Bellatti needed just ten pitches to mow down the Minnesota Twins in his second appearance. Interestingly, he worked primarily with his fastball in this outing, throwing nine heaters to one changeup. Again, the four-seamer had slightly lower velocity, but at 93.8 mph, it was closer to his 94.1 mph average — plus his spin rates were back up. The slider didn't make an appearance in this one.

Bellatti's history with the Phillies might buy him some leeway

Even with the strong start to his spring, Bellatti will need some good fortune to make the Phillies' Opening Day roster, especially since he's no longer on the 40-man. Even after a struggle of a season in 2023, the former 12th-round pick likely has some goodwill amongst the front office and coaching staff remaining from his 2022 campaign.

In that first season in Philadelphia, Bellatti pitched to a 3.31 ERA with 12.92 K/9 through 54 1/3 innings. He followed that up with a stellar 1.29 ERA and 0.43 WHIP with nine strikeouts in seven innings of playoff baseball, without giving up so much as a hit through the NLCS and World Series.

In the fierce competition for the final bullpen spots, Bellatti looks to be facing an uphill battle with a handful of other hurlers. He'll have to regain his form from two seasons ago and live up to his 2024 projections to convince the Phillies brass that he deserves another kick at the can in the big leagues.

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