Results tagged ‘ Zach Phillips ’
Is he a candidate for a major-league bullpen job? Is he limited to the left-handed spot relief role, or could he be successful in a bigger role?
Although Phillips’ basic stats — an ERA of 3.49 as a relief pitcher in AAA — indicate that he could handle a relief role, the deeper you look the less there is to like. Phillips has given up more than one hit per inning pitched — 168 hits, 162 2/3 innings in AAA — and also walks 4.4 batters per nine innings. He strikes out only 7.2 batters per nine innings. Even though Phillips keeps the ball in the park — 31 home runs in 750 career minor league innings — it’s hard for a relief pitcher, who often must come in with runners on base, to be successful with those H/IP, K/IP, and K/BB ratios.
How about as a left-handed spot relief pitcher?
The problem with that is, at least in 2012, Phillips was substantially more effective against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. He gave up 25 hits and 8 walks to left-handed batters while retiring 61; he gave up 31 hits and 14 walks to right-handed batters while retiring 101. The only home run he allowed was hit by a left-handed batter. So while Phillips may get a chance as a left-handed spot reliever, the chances are good that he won’t be very good at it.
Phillips was declared a free agent after the 2012 season and signed a minor-league contract with the Marlins’ organization. At least he should have an opportunity.
Last night, at the Tides-Rochester game, the wind was blowing out to left field at double-digit mph speed. So, naturally, when Matt Carson, the second Rochester batter in the first inning, hit a home run to left-center field, the official scorer Mike commented that that wasn’t going to be the last home run of the game hit to left field.
Wrong. The Tides tied the game in the bottom of the second, and then neither team scored until the fifteenth inning. Rochester’s Chris Parmelee hit a bases-loaded double off the left-field wall, and the Red Wings won, 4-1.
Even though it was a 1-1 game through fourteen innings, it wasn’t as difficult to watch as it could have been. Most important, the game took only 3:51 to play. Pro-rated to nine innings, that’s a 2:16 pace. We enjoy fast-moving games more than slow-moving ones. It moved quickly because there were 110 total plate appearances, which meant that each half-inning featured fewer than four batters on the average.
While it may be needless to say it, I will say that there were many unusual occurrences in the quickness-of-batter-outcome category, particularly in the extra innings:
- Tides reliever Zach Phillips worked his first three innings using only eighteen pitches, four of which were intentional balls.
- In the fourteenth inning, Phillips retired the side on only five pitches – with a strikeout.
- The Tides went through twelve batters – the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and the first two batters in the fourteenth – without a batter reaching a count containing both a ball and a strike. Each batter either put the first pitch in play, or the non-in-play pitches were either all balls or all strikes.
- In doing my pitch-by-pitch datacasting, almost all of the pitches not in play are coded as regular balls, called strikes, swinging strikes, or regular fouls, although there are many other codes for unusual results. In a three-batter stretch, there were nine pitches. Two were put in play, and none of the other seven was a “normal” result – four intentional balls, two foul bunts, and a pitchout.
Did the Orioles get something here?
It’s hard to say, primarily because the circumstances of his move to the Orioles from Texas are a little murky. The Rangers sent him to the Orioles for Nick Green and cash in July. Depending on the source, either Phillips had to be removed from the Rangers’ roster and Nick Green/cash was the best they could do; the Rangers wanted Nick Green as an insurance policy and were willing to send Phillips to the Orioles to get him; or the Orioles wanted Phillips and gave up Green/cash for him. If the Rangers were dumping him, then the Orioles probably don’t have anything; otherwise, they might.
Phillips’ first three full seasons were spent as a starting pitcher; he had a terrible year in Low-A, followed by a good year in Low-A, then a bad year in High-A. He was then shifted to the bullpen, where he’s pitched pretty well in AA and AAA but in kind of an undefined role. He hasn’t been used as a closer and doesn’t seem to have been used as a lefty specialist or swingman. When he pitched for the Tides, he was used in a variety of roles — sometimes desperation closer; sometimes lefty specialist. In a September callup with the Orioles, he pitched very well to 33 batters.
Phillips, apparently, has one thing going for him — he doesn’t give up home runs. He doesn’t have exemplary control; he doesn’t have overpowering strikeout rates; he gives up more hits than you’d like to see. Because he’s not what you look for in a lefthanded spot reliever, I don’t see him having much of a big league career.