The Phillies' initial wave of September call-ups wasn't all that exciting.
Deivy Grullon, a 23-year-old catcher with offensive promise, headlined the group, which also included veteran right-handed reliever Nick Vincent, rookie lefty Cole Irvin and utilityman Phil Gosselin.
As these four players got the call, two Phillies pitchers had their seasons officially end on Sunday. Adam Morgan (flexor strain) and Jerad Eickhoff (blister) were transferred to the 60-day injured list.
You can never have enough arms, and the additions of Vincent, Irvin and Nick Pivetta (on Tuesday) will help. But the sad reality is that the Phillies' pitching staff is in such shambles that it would require so much more for the team to piece together a consistently competitive rotation and bullpen.
The Phillies have had 10 relievers injured this season, most in the majors. Eight of the 10 are still on the injured list. Based on each player's per-day earnings, the Phillies have spent $20,156,277 this season just on injured relievers, according to Spotrac.
"You have that many injuries concentrated in one area — in this case the bullpen — to say that it tests your depth is an understatement," GM Matt Klentak said Sunday. "No organization has enough depth to replace as many guys as we’ve lost.
"... We talked all offseason and in spring training that a big part of our run-prevention efforts was going to be a deep and quality bullpen supporting our rotation. That meant whether we were winning the game or losing the game, whether it was the fifth inning or the eighth inning, whether it was a righty or a lefty, we were going to be able to bring in quality arms at any given moment. The injuries have certainly tested that.
"The other part was an improved defense and that has happened, but the number of injuries and the seriousness of the injuries has really been a challenge for us."
The Phillies will enter this offseason in need of at least four starting pitchers and arguably as many relievers. They do not have enough in the way of internal reinforcements, not at a point in their organizational cycle when the goal every day is to win the game.
Klentak said Sunday the Phillies can be aggressive again this offseason, even after spending upwards of $400 million on Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and on the remaining contracts of J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Juan Nicasio last winter.
The Phillies have no choice but to be aggressive this offseason. If last winter was about putting together a lineup, this winter will certainly be about putting together a competent pitching staff. A pitching staff that gives the Phillies a strong chance to win more than twice or three times every 10 days.
"All of these players are going to be here for some time," Klentak said. "Harper, Realmuto, Segura — these guys are in their 20s, still in their prime years. And with all that said, we still have a lot of flexibility this coming winter to address other areas. Now, I don’t know that we have another $330 million contract up our sleeve, but we certainly have the flexibility to be aggressive and make additions.
"We’ve talked for years about opening a window that extends for a longer period of time, not just a spike for a single year and then restart or rebuild. That has never been the goal. The goal has been to be competitive for a long stretch."
One pitcher the Phillies just faced on Friday, Zack Wheeler, is a name to remember. An impending free agent, Wheeler's contract will not come close to what Gerrit Cole commands, and it could also trail the yearly salary Madison Bumgarner finds. Wheeler has faced the Phillies five times this season and pitched very well in four them. On Friday, he showed again that on a given night, he can be just as effective as Nola. Wheeler throws a free and easy 96-98 mph fastball and when his breaking balls are working, he has near-elite-level stuff. His issue has been doing it on a consistent basis.
Wheeler will be only 29 when next season begins. He fits the Phillies' window and would be an ideal addition — a mid-rotation piece at worst, a No. 2 starter at best.
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