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2021 report card: Bailey Falter

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Turns out getting good extension on your pitches helps a lot

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Coming out of seemingly nowhere in 2021, Falter has thrust himself squarely into the conversation for a rotation spot until Zach Eflin returns from injury.

2021 stats

33 23 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 24.5 K%, 4.3 BB%, 1.34 HR/9, 5.61 ERA (3.79 FIP), 0.3 fWAR

The good

Having Falter come up to the majors and throw quality innings for the team this year qualifies as a pretty big surprise for the team. The ERA isn’t the best, but the underlying numbers suggest that he was fairly unlucky (look at that difference between ERA and FIP). Heading into the season, Falter was tagged by at least one prospect group as having breakout potential.

The secondaries are not dominant — you’ll see some plus changeups, but both breaking balls closer to average — but I don’t know how they’ll play now that they’re paired with a harder fastball. There’s a breakout opportunity here, and if not, it’s nice to know Falter is healthy and will be a viable backend option soon because of his ability to throw strikes.

That extension that Falter was getting on his pitches, mentioned earlier in that article, ended up catching the eye of another writer as his debut started coming into shape.

One of the nice things to see out of Falter was that his control allowed him to get some more outs as both an opener and as a reliever. It could help him earn a rotation spot, but at the very least, he’s shown he can be a solid reliever if the team sees that as a better spot for him.

The bad

While it’s nice to congratulate Falter and give him a pat on the back for the season, he still has a lot of things to work on. Even though he was stretched out a starter prior to his arrival in Philadelphia, he still could not go longer than four innings as a member of the pitching staff. That could be the result of the coaching staff not wanting him to go through an order more than twice, a solid reason for doing so, but if he wants to be considered a viable option for the rotation, he’s going to have to figure out a third pitch.

Relying mostly on that fastball/slider combination that got him to the majors in the first place, he began working in a changeup as something else for the opponents to see. All we have is a sample size of 32 pitches, but from those 32 changeups he threw, batters couldn’t do much with them (8 whiffs out of the 32 changeups he threw). That will likely change as teams become more familiar with him, so this offseason, he’ll have to work on his pitch mix a bit to make sure that if he is given the #5 starter’s job if/while Eflin is out, he can make it through more than four innings each start.

The future

As mentioned, we aren’t sure what Zach Eflin’s timeline is. Reports say he should be ready to go by spring training, but the team may want to go slow with him since his knees have given him so much trouble in the past already. If Falter is able to have a solid spring and show that he has a viable third option in his arsenal, look for him to have the inside track on the last starter’s spot.

Final grade: B-

Bailey Falter didn’t set the world on fire, but he was also pretty solid while here. His ERA is skewed a bit by a few bad outings, but the makings of a solid back of the rotation arm are there.