The bullpen building strategy of the Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld regime is obvious. There are a few things they are looking for, of course, but we can boil them down to really just two:
- Can he throw hard?
- Does he have minor league options?
Answering yes to one of these questions is mandatory, both of them a gift. It allows the team to cycle through a cavalcade of arms at the major league level without risking having to expose them to other teams and their talent hoarding vultures. Norwood was one of these finds for the Phillies, acquired in March from the Padres in exchange for a magical bag of beans. At the start of the year, Norwood did not have any minor league options available, but he threw hard and had a decent spring training, buoying his chances of making the team out of camp. Make the team he did, getting off to a solid start as a low leverage reliever in the bullpen through the month of April. He was so surprisingly good that Joe Girardi started to consider him for higher leverage situations, beginning with his appearance on May 1 against the Mets. After the dust settled on his next two games, both against New York, Norwood had allowed seven runs in 2⁄3 of an inning over two appearances against the Mets.
It was the beginning of the end of Norwood’s tenure in Philadelphia.
2022 stats: 20 G, 17 1⁄3 IP, 24 H, 17 R (16 ER), 2 HR, 22 K, 6 BB, 8.31 ERA (3.63 FIP), -0.6 bWAR
That discrepency in Norwood’s ERA and FIP is something that causes on a eyebrow tp twitch. “How can be considered to be so good? He’s literally a candidate to be DFA’d!” This isn’t false. Norwood falls into the group of pitchers that are going to occupy the bottom of the 40-man rosters, a big enough arm to dream on for cheap production, yet frustrating enough that he isn’t going to get high leverage innings. There are places for pitchers like that, especially when they have decent stuff like Norwood does.
His fastball velocity was in the 90th percentile of pitchers, nothing to sneeze at at all. If nothing else, it’s a building block for Norwood to use as he tries to latch on with another team.
The games against the Mets in early May are possibly the lowest of lowlights in this season. Brought into a game in which the Phillies had a 7-1 lead, three outs to get, a leverage index of 0.07 and a win expectancy of almost 100%, Norwood proceeded to produce arguably the worst outing by a Phillies pitcher this season.
Now, granted, most of the pitching in that inning was done by Corey Knebel, who ultimately was responsible for blowing the lead. But Norwood faced five batters that inning and four of them got hits. Knebel had to come in as Norwood simply couldn’t get anyone out. It was more merciful that Knebel came in.
He would pitch a few more times for the Phillies before being designated for assignment, but he was just never the same after that fateful night against the Mets. There was some talk about his being used in some higher leverage situations as the season began, but they quickly evaporated with this outing.
Once he was designated for assignment in June, the Red Sox straight bought him from the Phillies. He remains in their organization as roster filler for the minor leagues.