Hughes (w/ PHI): 23 IP, 3.91 ERA (6.47 FIP), 22.2 K%, 8.9 BB%, -0.5 fWAR
Davis: 20 IP, 6.53 ERA (7.13 FIP), 24.5 K%, 14.3 BB%, -0.3 fWAR
Ramos: 15 IP, 5.40 ERA (7.68 FIP), 15.9 K%, 10.1 BB%, -0.3 fWAR
Let’s be honest here.
We all know that Hughes was on the Phillies because he seemed to be Gabe Kapler’s favorite pitcher as the season wound down, throwing the 5th most innings for a reliever in the month of September. He was willing and able to take the ball when called upon, something that can’t be said about most Phillies’ relievers in 2019. There’s a certain pride that can be taken in that.
But did any of you realize that Davis and Ramos threw 35 innings this year? I honestly don’t recall one game that either of them pitched in. Of course, there were so many relievers this year it’s near impossible to remember every single one of them. So I guess their anonymity was a big plus for them.
Oh - at least we saw that Hughes could run 340 feet without tripping over himself each time. Win!
Jared Hughes’ tenure can be summed up in one gif:
It was bad timing, sure, but we all were thinking this when we had to witness Hughes come out of the bullpen and take flight toward the pitcher’s mound, something he was doing with an alarming frequency during the month of September.
It always felt like Hughes was surrendering leads for the Phillies, but when you dig a bit, you see that he was almost neutral when it came to WPA (win probability added), where his 0.02 WPA with the Phillies was a little startling. He balanced out his misdeeds with a few consecutive holds. Then he’d come in and boom - lead gone. So, WPA isn’t the one number that I found to be most interesting about Hughes. Instead, it was his RE24 number (refresher on RE24 here). The important part of that glossary entry is what applies to relievers:
Relievers enter into games and leave games with men on base frequently, so the standard rule book definition of runs allowed doesn’t always capture a reliever’s true performance. For example, if a reliever enters with the bases loaded and no outs, stranding the runners and allowing all three to score have the exact same impact on that relievers RA9 or ERA. When using RE24, stranding the runners is worth 2.282 RE24 and allowing them to score and then getting out of the inning is worth -0.72 RE24.
I think using RE24 helps us define how much value a reliever adds to his team a little better because it shows us with a concrete overall look at how he affected the games he was in. Looking at the leaderboard for league also shows that good relievers will show up at the top and bad ones will be at the bottom. Hughes’ RE24 of -2.70 with the Phillies would have placed him tied for the 440th worst number in the game among all relievers who threw an inning. You’ll find him lower on the leaderboard since it’s a comprehensive list for the entire season and doesn’t break it into how a guy who was traded did.
This is just a really long winded way of stating the obvious - Hughes wasn’t a good reliever this year. There aren’t any redeeming statistics out there for him
With Ramos, the poor guy was just hurt. It’s hard to judge a guy on only 15 innings, so we’ll just chalk it up to a lost season for him. With Davis, the team just had better options. Looking at that strikeout and walk rates, it’s easy to see why.
This is where things could get a little interesting. All three pitchers are still on the 40-man roster of course, since the season ended and they were still throwing innings. Yet a case could be made for each to stay and also to be let go. With Hughes, the case to stay seems a little less concrete since, as we saw above, he just wasn’t that good. Plus, he’s got a $3 million club option for 2020 that includes a $250,000 buyout. I’d expect them to use that $2.75 million elsewhere on someone better.
With Davis and Ramos, there could be the likelihood both are outrighted off of the 40-man to make room for improvements, but if they were to do so, I’d expect the Phillies to sign both of them to minor league deals with spring training invites. If I had to pick one of them to stay with the team, I’d say Ramos seems a little more likely than Davis. The team has Jose Alvarez under control for 2020 and can also offer arbitration to Adam Morgan as well, two left handed pitchers who are simply better than Austin Davis. It seems the organization spent a lot of time making sure Ramos was healthy last year, so they obviously still believe in him. If I had to put money on one of them returning next year, Ramos would be the one.