Phelps on Phils: 'Feel like I'm on playoff team'

September 3rd, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander  has been traded three times at the Trade Deadline, but only once during a global pandemic.

That happened Monday.

The Phils acquired Phelps from the Brewers for three players to be named later to help the bullpen following a bad first month, but also because Philadelphia plays five seven-inning doubleheaders in a span of 15 days this month.

Rather than hop on a commercial flight from Milwaukee to Philadelphia and risk potential exposure to COVID-19 for both himself and his future teammates, Phelps drove. He made a pitstop on Monday night in Pittsburgh, which meant he got to spend a night with his family. Phelps arrived at Citizens Bank Park a couple hours before Tuesday night’s 6-0 victory over the Nationals.

Phelps pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his Phillies debut in Wednesday's 3-0 victory.

“I think what I personally bring is I’m comfortable pitching in leverage situations,” Phelps said. “I think I would just caution a little bit about small sample size. If this was a 162-game season, it would have been a bad month for a bullpen. Trust me, I know the guys not only that got brought in [before the Deadline], but the guys that are here. It’s a good group. The calendar turned to September and we’re 1-0 [this month], so I think, going forward, I think that’s what we’re going to focus on, just winning games down the stretch.”

Phelps made the postseason as a rookie with the Yankees in 2012. He has not been back.

“If going somewhere gives me a better chance to do that, that’s what I want,” Phelps said. “I felt like I was on a playoff team in Milwaukee and I feel like I’m on a playoff team here. It’s been an exciting year of baseball. I’m happy to be here. Being back with Joe [Girardi], having people that I’m familiar with, makes the transition a lot easier.”

Girardi managed Phelps on the Yankees from 2012-14. The Yankees traded him to Miami in December ‘14, where J.T. Realmuto caught him for three seasons from 2015-17.

“I could sit here and talk all day about how great J.T. is,” Phelps said.

Phelps’ numbers are off the charts this season. He had a 2.77 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in 12 appearances with Milwaukee, striking out 20 and walking two in 13 innings. He ranks in the 90th percentile or better in expected batting average (.186), hard-hit percentage (24.0), strikeout percentage (41.7) and exit velocity (80.4 mph).

Phelps throws a cutter, curveball, sinker and four-seam fastball. Batters are 0-for-12 against the curveball, 2-for-10 against the sinker and 1-for-10 against the four-seamer. Left-handers are batting .133 (4-for-30) with one walk and 15 strikeouts against him.

“The stuff has been playing,” he said. “I’ve been working myself into good counts, which has been incredibly helpful. That’s one of the biggest things for me -- if I’m able to dictate counts, it goes a long way.”

Girardi thinks Allen is HOF worthy
A reporter asked Girardi on Tuesday if he thought Dick Allen should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Phillies are retiring Allen’s No. 15 in a pregame ceremony on Thursday.

The Golden Days Committee could have elected Allen into the Hall of Fame in December, but the organization postponed the vote until 2021 due to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Girardi wanted to study Allen’s numbers first before answering. He did just that, coming to Wednesday’s pregame media availability with information about Allen’s career on a sheet of paper.

“He’s a Hall of Famer, for me,” Girardi said. “From 1964-74, he had higher wins above replacement than Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan and Carl Yastrzemski. We all know how good those guys are, and they’re all Hall of Famers, and rightfully so. But for 10 years, Dick Allen was a pretty dominant player. To have an OPS in your career over .900, I believe that’s a Hall of Famer. Now, maybe he doesn’t have 500 home runs or 1,500 RBIs, but the man hit .300 seven times, he was an All-Star, he was an MVP, he was a Rookie of the Year. I would vote for him.”

Extra bases
Left-hander Adam Morgan is on the 10-day injured list with a fatigued left shoulder. Girardi said he thinks Morgan might miss only 10 days, meaning he could potentially return as soon as he is eligible on Sept. 10.