Who are the candidates to be Phillies' closer?
Club has several options following trade of Giles to Astros
PHILADELPHIA -- Who is going to be the Phillies' closer next season?
Based on a highly unscientific Twitter poll Saturday, nearly 90 percent of the 2,557 people who voted were not particularly concerned about the answer. They liked the trade that shipped Ken Giles and Minor League infielder Jonathan Arauz to the Astros for right-handers Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman and Harold Arauz and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer. They seem to think that a talented closer on a rebuilding team is a luxury, and the opportunity to build a rotation for the future is more important.
But there will come a time when the Phillies need a reliable closer. It might not be imperative in 2016 (recently signed free agents David Hernandez and Ernesto Frieri are internal candidates for next year's job), but they hope it becomes important a year or two after that.
So, who could the Phils' future closer be? There are a few internal candidates who immediately come to mind:
Jimmy Cordero: He might be the first name on everybody's list. The Phillies acquired the hard-throwing right-hander from the Blue Jays in the Ben Revere trade in July. Cordero's fastball sits pretty comfortably in the high 90s to 100 mph, and he has topped 100 mph on more than a few occasions. He posted a 2.55 ERA in 45 appearances last season with Class A Advanced Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Double-A Reading. Cordero struck out 64 and walked 24 in 67 innings, but he got better as the year progressed. He posted a 0.88 WHIP with Reading, exciting more than a few folks in the organization. But throwing strikes consistently is the key. Cordero has walked six and struck out nine in 8 1/3 innings during winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
"We think that Cordero has the weapons to be a back-end reliever," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Monday. "We'll see. But sometimes in the Minor Leagues, the development of the player takes precedent over the role that they serve in. But we definitely like the kid's future."
Alberto Tirado: Like Cordero, he joined the Phillies in the Revere trade and has hit 100 mph with his fastball. Philadelphia left Tirado unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, but nobody picked him because he is very raw. How raw? He made 40 appearances last season with Dunedin and Class A Advanced Clearwater. The righty posted a 2.68 ERA, but he struck out 77 and walked 53 in 77 1/3 innings. To have any shot at pitching in the late innings for the Phils, Tirado will need to find the strike zone. MLBPipeline.com has him ranked as the Phillies' No. 16 prospect.
Edubray Ramos: He does not throw as hard as Cordero or Tirado. Ramos' fastball is in the 93-96 mph range, but he has a better repertoire of pitches. He throws a changeup, a slider and a curveball. Ramos posted a 2.07 ERA in 47 appearances last season with Clearwater and Reading. He struck out 65 and walked just 16 in 69 2/3 innings, posting a 0.92 WHIP.
Velasquez: The righty is a favorite to win a spot in Philadelphia's rotation coming out of Spring Training, but some think Velasquez can be a dominant late-inning reliever if he struggles as a starter. But certainly the preference is that he remains in the rotation for years to come.
And should those players falter, a Yahoo! Sports story on Saturday said that there will be plenty of closers available in a few years. Closers Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, Trevor Rosenthal, Andrew Miller, Jeurys Familia, Glen Perkins, Kelvin Herrera, A.J. Ramos, Carter Capps and David Robertson could become free agents following the 2018 season. If the Phillies need a closer before that, they should be able to find one, possibly via trade, too.