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The Phillies’ unsung September saviors

A number of Phillie bench pieces and Triple-A recalls superseded expectations in September…

Photo via Heather Barry Images

The Phillies, thankfully, avoided the embarrassment of a sub-.500 season record on Saturday with their 9-3 win over the Marlins — but this small victory proved quite the uphill battle.

Over the last few days, the Phillies have lost a number of key players to precautionary measures:

Aaron Nola was shut down for the season for preservation, JT Realmuto is sitting out the last few games with a knee problem, and both Jean Segura and Scott Kingery will sit for the rest of the year, as well.

This particular predicament served as a call-to-arms for the Phillies’ reserves, and gave many a bench player an opportunity to shine — and shine they did.

In all fairness, many of these aforementioned bench-dwellers had been shining long before they’d been given the opportunity to start a game — and thus, I thought I’d turn the spotlight over to a few guys who put up some pretty outstanding numbers since their resurrection from the bench (or recall from Triple-A.)

Adam Haseley, OF

I doubt I even have to explain myself on this one.

Adam Haseley has turned himself from a 55-grade fielder into a defensive wall in center — and it’s no fluke. He’s making brilliant plays daily.

Over his short 2019 season, Haseley has managed to accumulate 1.5 bWAR. That’s more WAR than the likes of Yasiel Puig, Eric Hosmer, Ryan Braun, Michael Chavis, Eloy Jimenez, Nick Senzel, Robinson Cano, and many, many more have strung together throughout the duration of an entire season!

Haseley is also slashing .299/.364/.433 over his last 30 games — a testament to his plus-worthy contact ability.

By now, Adam has earned himself a starting spot in center field next year, barring some big surprise, of course.

Brad Miller, INF

Better known as ‘Bamboo Brad,’ Miller was acquired by the Phillies on the 13th of June, and he became a mainstay of the Phillies bench accordingly.

While Brad never put together anything too impressive throughout the bulk of his 2019 tenure with the club, he was a heck of a clubhouse presence, and was solely responsible for ushering in the Phillies’ “Bamboo Era,” which caught fire in a big way (the Phillies team store even manufactured bamboo-themed t-shirts!)

The months drew on, and Miller saw an at-bat here and there… but then, September hit.

Brad Miller went absolutely ballistic when the calendar flipped from August — and he’s gone especially bonkers over these last two weeks.

Across his last 8 games played, Brad Miller has slashed a staggering .333/.360/.958 with a 1.318 and 5 home runs. That kind of offensive output over 8 games!

On the season, Miller has compiled a slash of .242/.315/.517, along with 1.1 bWAR, 11 home runs, and an .861 OPS across 125 total at-bats.

The once 30-home-run-hitter has served as an excellent option off the bench, and has surely earned a second look, if not more, when the winter time rolls around.

I would not be surprised to see Miller back on a ~$1 Million Major League deal next year, strictly as a bench filler — which the Phillies will surely need once the roster size expands to 26 men in 2020.

Ranger Suarez, LHP

Suarez has been a go-to bullpen option since his recall from Triple-A in June, and, while his numbers were impressive throughout the entirety of his 2019 campaign, his September has been absolutely bananas.

Ranger has managed a 0.60 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over the course of his last 16 appearances. That’s exactly one (1) earned run allowed over his last 16 trips to the mound — that’s pretty darn good.

Suarez looks to be a truly stable ‘pen piece heading into 2020. His changeup had always served as an impressive pitch, and, coupled with his fastball, which is playing up coming out of the bullpen, he’s turned into quite the weapon with a 2-3 pitch mix.

On the season, Ranger recorded a 3.14 ERA over 48.2 innings, with a 144 ERA+, a 1.32 WHIP, and a 2.2 BB/9.

There’s still work to be done, but Suarez looks to be a near lock for the bullpen in 2020.

Phil Gosselin, INF

Ah, good ol’ Philly G. This guy has been an all around joy to have in the organization. He’s a home-town talent, and a great guy — but his clubhouse presence wasn’t the only reason he stuck around.

Whether you’d believe it or not, Phil Gosselin actually leads the Phillies in pinch hitting in 2019. In pinch spots, Gosselin has slashed .323/.364/.355. This is nothing new to Gosselin, who led the majors in pinch hits in 2016 with 20(!).

In typical Gosselin fashion, Phil is hitting .400 in pinch hitting scenarios since his recall from Triple-A, which is exceptional for a guy making the league minimum.

I would be shocked to see the Phillies pass on another Minor League deal for Philly Phil. He’s made for this city, and is a fan favorite, even while meandering in the Minor Leagues. I’d be thrilled to see him don red pinstripes again this winter.

Cole Irvin, LHP

I know, I know, this is probably the last guy you expected to appear on this list — but the struggling lefty starter you once knew is far removed from the new bullpen iteration of Cole Irvin.

Since transitioning to the ‘pen, Cole has seen quite the bump in velocity — his fastball sits comfortably at around 90-92 mph in his ‘pen appearances, whereas, in a starting role, Irvin would stray more towards the 86-89 mph range.

Since his recall on September 9th, Cole Irvin has tossed 12.1 innings to the tune of a 0.75 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP.

Pretty good, huh? Now, I’m not suggesting that this kind of success is sustainable for Irvin — though, he does seem to have a very 2018 Mike Minor-ish air about him when he appears from the ‘pen, and i’d certainly take that over some back-end inning-eater.

Having Irvin turn into a lefty long-man from the ‘pen would be quite the blessing, as the Phillies are currently lacking in relievers able to push past 1 inning, and have defaulted to Nick Pivetta and Jared Hughes as their de facto “long-men.”

Overall, it’s nice to see these guys close out their seasons strong. The Phillies are sure to have a busy offseason, but I’m sure we’ll see each and every one of these guys contribute come 2020 — in some capacity at least.

Happy last day of the season to all, and to all a good fall/winter… baseball-less.