Could Phils have hardest-throwing 'pen in 2023?
PHILADELPHIA -- Hitters might want to think twice before bringing their best bats into the batter’s box against Phillies relievers.
The Phillies have been one of baseball’s busiest teams this winter, acquiring Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Gregory Soto, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm, among others. One thing that has jumped out is the velocity they have added to the bullpen.
The Phillies already had one of the hardest-throwing bullpens in baseball before they acquired Soto, Kimbrel, Strahm and Yunior Marte. (They also had one of the most productive, ranking ninth with 5.1 WAR, according to FanGraphs.) It ranked second in baseball last season in average fastball velocity at 95.6 mph, according to Baseball Savant. Only the Yankees bullpen threw harder at 96.1 mph.
But the Phillies this year could blow past the Yankees’ mark, which is baseball’s best since at least 2008.
A hypothetical eight-man 2023 Opening Day bullpen includes José Alvarado (average fastball velocity 99.6 mph), Soto (98.4 mph), Seranthony Domínguez (97.9 mph), Nick Nelson (96.3 mph), Kimbrel (95.8 mph), Connor Brogdon (95.1 mph), Andrew Bellatti (94.4 mph) and Strahm (94.1 mph).
Those eight averaged 96.8 mph with their fastballs last year.
The Phillies have hard throwers behind them, too. Also on the 40-man roster are Marte (97.3 mph) and Sam Coonrod (96.7 mph). There even could come a time this season when pitching prospect Griff McGarry pitches out of the 'pen. He throws in the high 90s, too.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson loves his options.
“Having the ability to rest some of his hard throwers or back-end-type guys and still have other types of individuals who can do that the next day was very important to him,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said.
Of course, strikes and outs are more important than velocity. But the Phillies showed a knack for both down the stretch.
“We’re in a spot now where our bullpen is deep,” Dombrowski said. “Guys are going to be down at various times, but all of a sudden you look at people that can pitch the back end of the game from the left side in Alvarado and now Soto and Strahm, and from the right-hand side you’ve got Seranthony, you’ve got Kimbrel, we feel Brogdon can do that. Bellatti pitched very well. We also like some of the other people behind them and some of the youngsters coming up, so I think it gives us a lot of depth right now in the organization from a pitching perspective.”