Following Saturday’s afternoon’s win over the Pirates - the Phils’ third straight and twelfth in their last 15 overall - the Phillies announced that left-handed reliever Hoby Milner had been optioned to Lehigh Valley. Although the move wasn’t officially announced in the wake of that announcement, it seems this move is a harbinger of the arrival of offseason acquisition Tommy Hunter.
At first blush, exchanging a lefty for a righty and leaving Adam Morgan as the lone left-handed pitcher on the staff feels a bit imbalanced. But there’s some thinking afoot here, and it’s no accident that Milner was optioned as opposed to Yacksel Rios or a DFA of Drew Hutchison.
Gabe Kapler cited Tommy Hunter’s cutter and its effectiveness against lefties the other day.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 21, 2018
Hunter, 31, has been on the mend with a hamstring strain. Since becoming a full-time reliever prior to the start of the 2013 season, he has a 3.12 ERA and 3.98 K/BB ratio in exactly 300 innings. Over the past four seasons, he has held left-handed batters to collective OPSes of .639, .747, .715, and .501, sequentially. Hunter was signed to a two-year, $18 million deal this offseason.
Milner, 27, has all three option years intact and will only be burning the first of those this season. In 10 appearances, he’s recorded 14 outs against 25 batters faced, with four strikeouts and three walks.