Connor Brogdon was expected to be a big part of the Phillies’ bullpen in 2023. After an inconsistent 2022 regular season and a shaky first playoff game, Brogdon dramatically turned things around in the 2022 postseason. He didn’t give up a run in his final six playoff appearances, and his two inning, five strikeout outing against the Astros was especially impressive.
The Phillies' bullpen will play a big role throughout the rest of the WS, and against the Astros LHH, Connor Brogdon will play a "massive role."— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) October 31, 2022
Brodgon isn't fazed by this. He says he's pitching as well as he has all year, thanks to a mechanical tweak: https://t.co/F9JZ5A7Js4 pic.twitter.com/yxzdClRIzw
The Phillies hoped that the 28-year-old righty would build off that success and seize control of a setup job in 2023. Instead, he struggled, and spent the majority of the season in Triple A.
2023 stats: 27 games, 29 IP, 2-1, 4.03 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 8.1 K/9, 0.3 fWAR
Brogdon was actually mostly solid in April, recording a 2.51 ERA in 13 appearances. There were some highlights mixed in: He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings to earn the win in a one-run game against the Rockies. And his other win came thanks to two scoreless innings in another victory over the Rockies. (Maybe his problem was that the Phillies just didn’t play the Rockies enough?)
For the second straight year, Brogdon didn’t have his top velocity during Grapefruit League play, and that carried over into the first game on the season. Brogdon - like most of the pitchers who saw action that day - had a rough outing on Opening Day.
You're not going to like this update: Connor Brogdon gives up a two-run home run to Brad Miller. It's 11-6 Rangers.— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) March 30, 2023
As mentioned above, his performance stabilized in April, but couldn’t sustain that success into the following month. In his 12 May appearances, he walked eight batters against ten strikeouts, while giving up two home runs.
The problems continued into early June, and the nadir came in a game against the Nationals. After the Phillies had battled back from a 7-1 deficit, Brogdon entered the game and promptly gave up the go-ahead run.
Nationals def. Phillies (25-32)— Watchin' Phils (@WatchinPhils) June 3, 2023
No yeah let’s bring in Connor brogdon with the game on the line.
Two days later, he gave up two runs in one inning in a mop-up capacity, and shortly after, he was demoted to Triple A.
The trip to Lehigh Valley didn’t cure what ailed him. He continued to walk batters at a far too high rate and recorded a 5.46 ERA. When the Phillies named their “stay ready” roster for the playoffs, Brogdon was nowhere to be found.
It’s pretty wild how this guy made some of the best hitters on earth look completely helpless on the biggest stage and he’s barely an afterthought like 16 months later pic.twitter.com/Vff43glPtl— Robert Orr (official) (@NotTheBobbyOrr) January 3, 2024
Brogdon has succeeded on the biggest stage, so the talent is clearly there, but his success appears to be directly related to his fastball velocity, and if he can’t find a way to sustain that for an entire season, he’s not going to live up to that promise.
It is a really simple equation, Connor Brogdon when he averages over 96 is good, Connor Brogdon when he is 93-95 is bad.— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) March 30, 2023
He’ll be turning 29 this year and is arbitration eligible, so it feels like time is running out for him. He might be a good candidate for a “change of scenery” trade where teams swap disappointing one-time prospects for another to see if they can succeed elsewhere.
If he’s not traded, I expect him to be in camp with a chance to win a bullpen job, but I can’t imagine the Phillies would be counting on him to do so.