Option 3: Dylan Covey
Dylan Covey, 32, is one of the biggest conundrums for the Phillies coming into 2024. Signed off waivers in May 2023, he ended May with a 7.45 ERA. It couldn't have been much worse of a first month for the right-hander.
But as the year progressed and he became more comfortable in his role, Covey became someone who could be trusted. From Aug. 26 to his last appearance in the regular season on Sept 27, he allowed just one earned run over 12 innings while striking out seven and not allowing a home run. He lowered his ERA to 3.77 and was a legitimate option for the Phillies.
Covey is a ground ball pitcher and relies on his sinker to keep hitters off balance and get weak contact. He throws his sinker 41.4 percent of the time, leading to a 53.5 percent ground ball rate, one of the highest in baseball. On the flip side, his strikeout and whiff rates are at the bottom of the league at 15.7 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively. He can be dependent on the defense behind him, which may be seen as risky by the front office.
If Covey can replicate his end-of-year performance, it might be enough to earn him a spot on the 2024 major league roster.
Option 4: Andrew Bellatti
The last option for the last two spots is Andrew Bellatti. Similar to Brogdon, Bellatti was a big contributor in 2022, appearing in 59 games with a 3.31 ERA, 2.87 FIP and 1.325 WHIP. He also appeared in seven innings during the 2022 postseason allowing just one earned run.
But his 2023 didn’t go as planned. He appeared in just 27 games, with a very high 5.11 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. He couldn’t find a rhythm at the major league level and hold onto the consistent role he was trusted in.
The 32-year-old right-hander relies mostly on two pitches, his 94 mph fastball (47.5 percent) and his 86 mph slider (47.1 percent). According to Baseball Savant, he's in the upper echelon of MLB pitchers with a 33.5 percent chase rate and 33.9 percent whiff rate.
However, his strikeout rate is low at 22.1 percent, and his walk rate is on the higher side for a relief pitcher at 10.6 percent. As a relief pitcher, it typically bodes well to be able to strike batters out and limit the free passes. His 4.80 xERA and .266 xBA are not ideal.
Bellatti is a pitcher who the Phillies coaching staff may see value in because of his slider/fastball mix from the right side. He has major league experience and has proven that he can contribute to winning in the past.
Who should be in the Phillies bullpen?
In reality, the Phillies will wait as long as possible in spring training to decide which reliever options will take the final two spots. With the possibility that the Phillies will dip into the free agent market to shore up the bullpen, there could be more arms in the mix by the end of March.
But if the season started today, the Phillies should choose Dylan Covey, based on his late-season resurgence, and the upside of Connor Brogdon. Having those two arms fill the last two spots in the bullpen would be a great addition and give Rob Thompson and Caleb Cotham the best options to fill out the relief corps.