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2021 report card: Ranger Suarez

A pleasant surprise, both in the bullpen and in the rotation

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Who would’ve guessed that Ranger Suarez of all people was going to save both the bullpen and the rotation from spiraling into a maelstrom of chaos at various points in the season? Now, where to best use him...

2021 stats

as a starter: 12 GS, 65 23 IP, 8.9 K/9, 1.08 WHIP, 1.51 ERA
as a reliever: 27 G, 40 13 IP, 9.4 K/9, 0.87 WHIP, 1.12 ERA

The good

On May 8, the Phillies’ bullpen was struggling. They had a 5.03 ERA as a group, 25th in the league. They were striking people out and walking people at a middle of the pack clip, but they clearly needed help. They had already blown nine saves, tied for second most to that point. Too early to trade for someone, they decided to promote from within to plug a hole in the bullpen.

They promoted Ranger Suarez. You can see how much he helped by looking at his numbers as a reliever.

After the July trading deadline, one where the only move they could finalize to help the pitching staff was acquire Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy, they finally had their “closer” in Kennedy, which meant Suarez could move to the rotation and help a front five that was in serious need of repair.

You can see how well he performed in that role.

Ranger Suarez was excellent in each role he was put into. The best part about it was that any questions about how he would fare with the switch to the rotation were answered when we saw him hold his stuff throughout his starts.

Not thinking they’d get this much production from him, Suarez could rightfully claim to be the “biggest surprise” of the season for the team.

The bad

The “bad” here isn’t really anything Suarez did. He was great in whatever role he was in.

The “bad” is that there weren’t two of him - one for the rotation and one for the bullpen. That would have helped this team tremendously.

The future

All indications are that Suarez is the #3 starter for this team when 2022 begins.

Is that the best use of him though?

He was so, so good out of the bullpen and his ability to maintain his stuff on short rest is a valuable commodity, particularly in these days of starters only going 4-5 innings per start. Imagine that the team were trying to bring along a younger starter from their system or an older free agent that lost stuff after a few innings. Having Suarez there to be able to handle the rest of the workload and pitch effective innings before turning it over to the closer would be a way to win a game.

However, with no prospects coming any time soon and the team likely to spend its remaining free agency dollars (rightfully) on offense, Suarez remains in the rotation.

Not that that is a bad thing! Suarez is really good there!

Perhaps the idea of Suarez being used as a fireman out of the bullpen is something the team needs to develop with one of their fringe prospects on the 40-man roster. Since they all seem to be stalling out before they reach the majors, maybe a shift in how those pitchers are used is a way to help their development and the major league team at the same time.

Final grade: A

Suarez was great this season. He had a hiccup for two, but for his contributions to the bullpen and to the rotation, he’s going to get a top grade every time.