So far this offseason, the Phillies have addressed each need they came into it via free agency.
Shortstop? Signed Trea Turner.
Rotation? Signed Taijuan Walker.
Bullpen? Signed Craig Kimbrel.
That last one, though, might need a few more bullet to get through another 162 (and hopefully more) games. Getting all the way to the World Series meant that some players needed to break out, some players needed to build on their performances and some needed to surprise. The Phillies are hoping for a lot of repeat performances from bullpen members, but they really look like they’re thinking that Connor Brogdon, as broken as he was, is finally fixed and ready to dominate.
2022 stats: 47 G, 44 IP, 16 ER, 6 HR, 26.6 K%, 5.9 BB%, 3.27 ERA (3.43 FIP), 1.0 bWAR
Brogdon had an overall pretty good season, outside of a rough stretch which we’ll get to in a bit. As a middle reliever, he did more or less what you’d expect of him - not quite good enough to be consider for higher leverage roles, not bad enough to simply demote or release altogether. In the postseason, aside from his initial outing against Atlanta, Brogdon was actually pretty solid for the team. He gave them innings in middle parts of games, bridging the gap to the backend of the bullpen and even helping them out of a jam in the NLCS Game 4 when Bailey Falter couldn’t get out of the first inning. Had Brogdon blown up in that inning, the series could have shifted in a very different way.
When I started this report card, it may have been me misremembering the season, but there felt like a time when Brogdon was just having a really bad go of it. Going through his game log, there was a stretch of time where, yeah, he was really, really bad.
From August 21 through September 20, Brogdon threw 10 2⁄3 innings where he allowed 10 earned runs on 18 hits, walking three and striking out fourteen. He allowed four home runs over that stretch, possibly the stretch that caused a memory jog for me. If I recall as well, as we internally were going over the relief options down the stretch, Brogdon’s name never really came up, his recent outing becoming too unreliable to be counted on when it mattered most.
Judging from what the team has done this offseason, there seems to be a lot of trust being put on the members of the bullpen to have a season similar to what they had last year. That’s not uncommon. A team can’t be expected to rebuild their bullpen each season from scratch.
Connor Brogdon is one of those guys that the team seems to think he’ll be as good, if not better, than he was last season. They did go out and acquire Craig Kimbrel to help with the end of games situations, but they also haven’t made moves to help bring in someone else (at least, not yet). That means they’re putting a lot of trust of Kimbrel, Dominguez, Alvarado, Bellatti and Brogdon right now. For Brogdon, he’s shown he can do it in the past, but that it can also go away from him just as quickly. His development in a positive direction will help not only the team’s bullpen, but also their bottom line. He’ll be arbitration eligible after 2023 and likely won’t be making vast swaths of cash for a while. His being effective this season will help the team immensely both now and in the future.
That stretch of pitching almost cost the team a spot in the playoffs, but once they did get there, he was actually pretty reliable for the team.