If you watched any of the Philadelphia Phillies series with the New York Mets, you may have noticed there was a problem with the bullpen. It really didn’t seem to matter who the Phillies put into the game – they simply gave up runs. All three games were decided by the bullpen, with the Phillies dropping all three.
It is time to look outside the organization for help. The Phillies have a handful of good prospects in Jake Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, and Justin De Fratus. But GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. needs to start looking around the league and see about bringing in any of the following seven relief pitchers for help.
Brett Myers, Houston Astros
This would certainly be ironic, considering Brett Myers left Philadelphia after the 2009 season and wasn’t exactly a fan favorite when he was on the team. But he is in the final season of his two-year deal with the Houston Astros and he is a talented closer that would make an immediate impact in the setup role for the Phillies.
Myers has an 0.84 ERA and seven strikeouts against just one walk in 10.2 innings pitched. He saw success back in 2007 as a closer for the Phillies, recording the final out in relief when he struck out Wily Mo Pena on a curveball to win the division title. Myers is actually tougher against lefties than righties, and he could be a good fit for the Phillies considering he has held lefties to just a .077/.143/.077 statline in 14 plate appearances.
He is being paid $11 million this season, which is way too much to close considering the Astros are nowhere near being contenders. He also has a $10 million option for 2013 with a $3 million buyout, and the Phillies would have to decide if they can afford Myers.
Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
Brandon League is definitely one of the more underrated closers in the game, as he amassed 37 saves and posted a 2.79 ERA for the Seattle Mariners last year. This year, League is off to another strong start, with eight saves and a 2.25 ERA. What does scare me is that his strikeouts are way down and his walks are up, giving League a strikeout to walk ratio of just 1.29, but he’s nearly automatic against righties.
League has faced 28 right-handed hitters this year and given up just two hits, which amounts to a statline of .083/.185/.083 and four strikeouts. League is making $5 million this year as a Super-2 arbitration-eligible player, and he becomes a free agent after 2013. The Mariners are just 15-18, and they’re very likely not going to be in the race by July. Then again, if the Phillies don’t start winning, they won’t need League either.
Jon Rauch, New York Mets
Jon Rauch has been a journeyman reliever throughout his career, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a productive pitcher. He routinely ranks among the league leaders in appearances on the mound, and he’s having another strong season as a reliever for the Mets.
Rauch is a workhorse, having pitched in 88 and 85 games in a season. He has bounced from team to team, but his 3.80 career ERA suggests he is good enough to continue getting jobs. Rauch is 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA for the Mets this season with an extremely low walk rate (1.9/9), but the problem is his frighteningly low strikeout rate (3.8/9) that suggests he may be at the tail end of his career.
If Rauch can be purchased at little cost, it’s not a bad move for the Phillies. Considering the Mets are still in the race though, I doubt they will part with Rauch, especially since he is making just $3.5 million.
Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
There’s really no reason for the Astros to keep anyone on the roster that’s making any sort of cash. The Astros need to trade the guys they can for prospects now before they lose them in free agency (Wandy Rodriguez: hint hint).
Brandon Lyon is in the final year of a three-year contract and he’s making $5.5 million as a setup man for a team that has no chance at making the playoffs. The Astros should be begging people to take Lyon. He has a 2.38 ERA on the season in 11.1 innings, he has struck out 12 and walked just two, and he would instantly upgrade the Phillies bullpen.
Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jason Grilli is a 35-year old pitcher who probably doesn’t have too many years left and he’s not making very much money in 2012 (just $1.1 million), but he’s a tremendous strikeout pitcher and could definitely help the Phillies this season.
Grilli has a 1-1 record and a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings pitched. He has struck out an incredible 22 hitters against seven walks, and while he has struggled with his control (5.3 BB/9), he has struck out an impressive 16.5 batters per nine innings. Grilli is 21-20 in his career with a 4.51 ERA, which suggests he has been overachieving this season, but he also was hit hard in his first several seasons before settling down.
Huston Street, San Diego Padres
Hutston Street is in his first season with the San Diego Padres after seven productive seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies, and he is performing extremely well. Street has a 0.93 ERA and 13 strikeouts to just two walks in 9.2 innings pitched, and he has saved four games.
Street has a 3.07 career ERA and a 9.2 K/9 rate plus a 2.3 BB/9 rate in his major league career, which makes him an extremely attractive pitcher. He is 28 years old and in the final season of a three-year, $22.5 million contract, and the Phillies should be willing to spend $7.5 million for a player like him, especially since he also has a $9 million option for 2013 the team could pick up.
Matt Capps, Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins really don’t need Matt Capps, a quality relief pitcher who is being paid $4.75 million to close games for a team that is 8-23 on the season. Capps isn’t having a terrific season, but he is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA, five saves, and he walks an incredibly low number of batters (0.8/9).
Capps is a former All-Star with a 3.52 career ERA, and he would be a good option as a setup man for a struggling Phillies bullpen. He gets rocked against righties, to the tune of a .318/.348/.636 line, but he is almost a right-handed lefty specialist, with a .100/.100/.100 statline in 20 plate appearances against lefties.