Phillies

Phillies' bullpen getting an attribute it needed with Heath Hembree

Phillies
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Brandon Workman drew top billing in the Phillies' trade with the Red Sox Friday night, but Heath Hembree could also become a valuable late-inning option for Joe Girardi. And he provides an attribute this bullpen badly needed.

Velocity.

Hembree is a 6-foot-4 right-hander with strikeout stuff. His fastball has averaged 94.4 mph over the last four seasons, which is harder than the average fastball velocity of every Phillies pitcher this season except Zack Wheeler.

Since 2017, Hembree has a 3.99 ERA and has struck out 202 batters in 171⅓ innings. Since the start of last season, he's held right-handed hitters to a .217 batting average with four homers in 130 plate appearances.

Velocity has been absent from the Phillies' bullpen this year. Hector Neris is the closer because of his disappearing splitter. His fastball is average. Tommy Hunter's best pitch is his low-90s cutter. Adam Morgan's best pitch is his sweeping slider. There was a belief that Nick Pivetta's fastball could play up out of the bullpen but he was unable to seize any role and was part of the trade to Boston. Pivetta, in fact, leaves with the highest ERA (5.50) of any Phillie since 1930 who has pitched as many innings as he did.

The biggest fastball in the bullpen to this point in the season has belonged to Ramon Rosso at just a tick over 94. But Rosso's control has been erratic. The Phillies have, out of necessity, thrust him into a role he might not yet have been ready for. He could have been a candidate to claim some high-leverage innings with a strong start, but he's put 12 men on base in 5⅔ innings.

 

Workman and Hembree could realistically come in here and be two of the Phillies' three most effective relievers, along with Neris.

Hembree is predominantly a four-seam fastball/slider guy. He's thrown his heater 57% of the time this season, his slider 36% and his curveball 7%.

With only five weeks left in the regular season, the Phillies need both former Red Sox to find their footing quickly. Especially with nothing but head-to-head matchups with division rivals coming up.