It's not exactly the big splash Philadelphia Phillies fans have been waiting for, but the Phillies made a move on Monday afternoon, picking up a new arm.
Per Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Phillies claimed left-handed pitcher Josh Fleming off of waiver from the Tampa Bay Rays. Lauber also notes that lefties Michael Plassmeyer and Erich Uelmen were outrighted to the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Fleming, 27, was originally drafted by the Rays in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB Draft and made his MLB debut in 2020. He got off to a hot start, going 5-0 in seven games (five starts) with a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.
Since then, the southpaw hasn't had a smooth ride. He appeared in 26 games (11 starts) in 2021 but posted a 5.09 ERA with a 10-8 record. In 2022, he went 2-5 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 appearances (three starts). This past season, Fleming went 2-0 in 12 games (three starts) with a 4.70 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
Fleming doesn't rely on velocity on the mound, with a career 5.80 K/9 and all of his offerings below league-average velocity. His four-seam fastball averages 91.5 mph, while his sinker averages 90.3 mph. He also throws an 82.9 mph changeup and a 76.5 mph curveball. He rarely uses his four-seamer, instead relying on his sinker 44.1 percent of the time.
What Fleming does do well is induce ground balls. His 61.6% ground ball rate in 2023 ranks in the 98th percentile, per his Baseball Savant page. He also avoids barrels, with a 5.6% rate, which puts him in the 83rd percentile.
Fleming has missed time in the past with a calf injury in 2021, a strained oblique in 2022, and most recently was on the IL for 10 weeks this season with elbow inflammation.