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2021 report card: David Hale

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Remember when David Hale was used in key situations? That was fun.

Milwaukee Brewers v Philadelphia Phillies
David Hale leaving the game after not rewarding Joe Girardi’s faith in him
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Phillies made a few trade deadline deals in 2020 in an attempt to shore up their awful bullpen. The acquisitions of Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree were well-publicized failures that ensured the Phillies would fall short of the postseason in 2020. But somehow, neither Workman nor Hembree may have been the worst pitcher they traded for that simmer.

The stats

17 games, 26.2 IP, 0-2 W-L, 6.41 ERA, 7.09 K/9, 3.04 BB/9

The good

Hale was released at the end of June, so we didn’t have to deal with him in the second half.

The bad

You know what’s worse than a bad reliever? A bad reliever who inexplicably has the trust of his manager. Hale pitched well for the Yankees in 2019, and apparently having any level of success for the Yankees is enough to convince Joe Girardi that he’s a usable player.

Hale was not usable. Sure, he was fine in a mop-up when the outcome of the game has already been decided. You know who else works in that role? Pretty much every other pitcher in the major leagues. But almost any time Hale was used in a non-mop-up role, it went poorly.

In Hale’s first appearance of 2021, he gave up a two-run home run to Pete Alonso. In his second appearance, he gave up a two-run home run to Freddie Freeman. After that, he had two straight low-leverage appearances where he pitched 2+ innings without giving up any runs. Apparently, that small success was enough to convince Girardi that Hale was ready to be used in bigger spots.

That was a mistake. Hale gave up runs in his next three appearances, and only avoided giving up runs in the fourth because he entered with the bases loaded and gave up a three-run double to Pete Alonso. (I’d say the lesson learned should be: Don’t let Hale face Alonso, but the real lesson is, don’t let Hale face anyone.)

At this point, the Phillies were 0-7 in games in which Hale appeared. They actually won the game in which he next appeared, but considering Hale allowed three runs without retiring a batter, I wouldn’t attribute much of the team’s success to him.

Hale’s usage varied over the following month. Sometimes he was used in mop-up duty when his poor pitching didn’t matter much. He got a start in a bullpen game. Girardi tried him out again in the “Starter gets knocked out early, and we want to keep this from getting out of hand” role, and generally, Hale allowed things to get out of hand.

The nadir came in a June 23 game against the Nationals. The Phillies were leading by four in the sixth inning, and Girardi chose Hale to escape a bases loaded, two-out jam. He did not escape. Instead, he gave up a two-run single to Trea Turner and then a grand slam to Josh Bell. The fact that he remained in the game and retired the next four batters was little consolation.

At that point, the Phillies realized that while they have had no shortage of bad relievers over the past two years, Hale still might be the worst of them. He was designated for assignment, chose to become a free agent, and unsurprisingly, did not resurface with another team.

The future

Maybe Hale gets a minor league deal somewhere this winter, but I’m praying that Joe Girardi doesn’t convince the Phillies front office that they should be the team to give it to him.

Grade: F

Hale was awful, and his presence in a game was pretty much a guarantee of defeat. The team went 3-14 in games he appeared in, and while he wasn’t the only one responsible for that record, he contributed to it far more than he should have.