The Phillies made a long overdue tweak to their bullpen on Friday.
More changes could be coming.
The Phillies acquired right-hander David Hale from the Yankees for right-hander Addison Russ, who pitched last season with Double-A Reading. Hale, 32, was designated for assignment on Monday, when the Yankees activated closer Aroldis Chapman from the injured list. Hale has a 3.00 ERA (two earned runs in six innings) in five appearances this season, although he has a 5.11 xERA, according to Statcast. Hale struck out seven and allowed seven hits and three walks.
Sources told MLB.com that the Phillies and Red Sox are discussing a multiplayer trade involving Red Sox closer Brandon Workman and right-hander Heath Hembree.
Hale is headed to Atlanta, but he will not be available for Friday night’s series opener there against the Braves. The Phillies designated left-hander Austin Davis for assignment to make room for Hale on the 40-man roster.
“[Hale] can help us bridge [from starter to closer], and I think we also use him a little bit later,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s a three-pitch guy [who] has a really good changeup. He has a breaking ball as well. He’s had some success in the Yankees’ bullpen, and he just probably fell victim to having a very deep bullpen.”
The Phillies do not have a deep bullpen, which is why the reinforcements should not stop with Hale. Philadelphia relievers entered Friday with an 8.07 ERA, which is the highest mark in baseball. The 2005 Rockies (8.74 ERA) and ‘00 Blue Jays (8.24 ERA) are the only two bullpens since ‘00 to have an 8.00 ERA or higher through 21 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
No Phillies bullpen has had a higher ERA through 21 games since 1938 (10.26 ERA), according to Elias.
“When you talk about [VP and GM] Matt [Klentak] and the front office, they’re always going to try to improve the club where we can,” Girardi said. “I think they’ll continue to look to make us better as we move forward.”
Hale’s average exit velocity on balls in play (87.1 mph) ranks 53rd out of 294 relievers (minimum 150 batted balls) over the past three seasons. He has allowed only four hard-hit balls out of 16 this season.