Heading into the 2021 trade deadline, the Phillies knew they needed to add at least one starting pitcher. After a deal with the Pirates for southpaw Tyler Anderson fell through, the Phillies switched gears. Although top-tier righty Max Scherzer was available, the Phillies were never seriously mentioned in trade talks. This meant they had to look into the second and third tier of starters that were on the block. They arrived at veteran righty Kyle Gibson.
Gibson was one of the few middle of the rotation guys available that the Phillies could acquire without having to deplete an already thin farm system. In order to bring in some rotation help, Spencer Howard was sent packing. Although he was underwhelming this season, there still was some upside with the hard throwing prospect. So how exactly did Gibson perform in his eleven starts?
(w/ PHI) 69 IP, 1.29 WHIP, 20.7 K%, 7.8 BB%, 1.04 HR/9, 5.09 ERA (4.04 FIP), 1.1 fWAR
Gibson threw six or more innings in seven of his eleven starts with the Phillies. He largely kept the ball in the yard and allowed 66 hits in those 69 innings. Gibson was never brought in to be an ace, just to eat up innings and help with a playoff push. He ate up innings to the tune of six quality starts in his eleven. This was made possible partially due to his best ground ball percentage (53.2%) since 2015. His four seam fastball velocity remained steady at 92.6 mph. A 1.1 fWAR shows Gibson did have some success with the Phillies and was not necessarily a bad acquisition. But does the good outweigh the bad?
Some of the numbers are uglier than what we would’ve hoped for. With a 5.09 ERA and a 4.04 FIP, it’s hard to ignore Gibson’s struggles to keep runners from coming across the plate. He seemed to have bad stretches of consecutive walks or hits, putting himself into difficult situations. There were times Gibson pitched his way around danger, but when there’s runners in scoring position and less than two outs, runs will score. During his 19 starts with the Rangers prior to the trade, Gibson’s LOB% was 79.9. In his 12 appearances in Philadelphia, there was a major drop off as it finished at 64.4%. When guys got on base, they scored.
Gibson will remain under contract with the Phillies for the 2022 season. Looking a rotation with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suarez as locks for the 2022 rotation, Gibson could slide into the number four or five starter spot depending on any offseason adds. Zach Eflin’s injury will likely keep him out for the beginning of the season, but when he comes back, this could boot Gibson from the rotation. There isn't much trade value for Gibson at this point in his career after his less than impressive second half. Unless the Phillies pull a White Sox and try to sell low after buying high, expect Gibson to be a part of the rotation in 2022.
Final Grade: C
Overall the numbers were not impressive. The fact that six of the eleven starts were quality starts helps Gibson’s case. He ate up innings and picked up a few wins. Considering Spencer Howard’s continuous struggles, Gibson was still a rotation upgrade. It could have been much worse for the Phillies than it was. If Gibson can regain his first half form of 2021, the Phillies 2021 rotation is in decent shape.