Cover your eyes. I’m about to drop some 2016 Phillies bullpen statistics on you.
Their 5.05 ERA was 3rd-worst in baseball. Their 4.57 FIP was 2nd-worst. They walked 3.72 batters per nine innings last season, which was 7th-most in baseball, gave up 1.40 HR/9 innings, 2nd-most, and allowed a .266 batting average against in 2016, which was 3rd-worst among MLB bullpens.
Clearly, the Phillies needed some help in their ‘pen, and one of the first deals they made during the off-season was to bring long-time late-inning reliever Joaquin Benoit into the fold.
Signed to a one-year, $7.5 million deal, the 40-year-old brings his 2.81 ERA, 3.90 FIP, and 9.75 K/9 rate with him to Philadelphia for this season’s fun and games. He walked a ton of guys last year (4.50 BB/9), but for Benoit, his year was really a tale of two seasons.
Joaquin Benoit Splits
Benoit was dealt from the Seattle Mariners to the Toronto Blue Jays not long before the trade deadline and saw his season do a complete 180 degree turn. He drastically cut down on his walk rate, which helped him give up just one run in 23.2 innings with Toronto.
Obviously, the Phillies shouldn’t expect that kind of production in 2017, and if they do, he’ll be dealt long before the end of the season. In fact, that is one of the main things that is attractive about him, his trade-ability.
As the only member of the Philadelphia Phillies born in the 1970s, he has experience pitching late in games, knowledge he can share with younger relievers like Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos. And if he can get the Phillies a decent prospect late in July, all the better.
Last season, his 15th in the Majors at age 39, Benoit averaged 95 mph on his fastball, so it’s clear he still has a lot left in the tank. He eased into spring training action this season, and in 5 innings has given up 5 runs on 4 hits with 9 strikeouts and 4 walks.
That ain’t great, but with a veteran like this, you don’t really worry too much about the numbers.
He may drive you a little crazy with the bases on balls, but if Jeanmar Gomez struggles as the team’s closer to start the season, Benoit could be one of the first guys up to take his place.