With the Rangers in free fall and likely to be sellers at the trade deadline, pitcher Jake Diekman could be the answer to some of the Phillies bullpen woes.
With the calendar about to change to July, all baseball fans will be watching to see what their team decides to do as the MLB trade deadline continues to get closer and closer.
For the Phillies, the decision to be buyers or sellers isn’t nearly as clear cut as it has been in seasons past. They currently sit at 41-36, three games out of first place in the NL East. The team is playing much better than almost anyone anticipated at the beginning of the season and could make a push for a wildcard spot or even win the division if things break their way.
That all being said, everyone will agree that the Phillies as they currently stand are in no danger of making a trip to the World Series. They just don’t have the talent to make that kind of leap this early in the rebuild that has been going on for five years (and counting).
So while Phillies GM Matt Klentak probably won’t be having a fire sale like some teams, he likely won’t be making any huge moves either. There just isn’t any reason to give up any young prospects at this point.
However, that doesn’t mean some small moves would be out of the question.
One small move Klentak could make that could pay immediate dividends is to shore up the Phillies bullpen, which between injuries and a lack of talent could really use some help.
And the Texas Rangers may be in just the position to provide that help.
The Rangers are in dead last in the AL West and 18 games out of first place. They will almost certainly be sellers at the deadline looking to unload salary and contracts to help their own rebuild. And while the eyes of most Phillies fans will be on starting pitcher Cole Hamels and the possibility of his returning to Philadelphia, it should be reliever Jake Diekman they should focus their attention on.
Diekman currently has an ERA of 3.86 and a WHIP of 1.50. Since he arrived in the American League in the Hamels trade in 2015 he has improved in almost every category. He still walks a ton of batters, but also limits hits so it all balances out.
The big plus of adding Diekman to the bullpen is the fact he is a lefty, something the Phillies are in desperate need of. Adam Morgan is the only other left-handed reliever of note on the roster and he is hardly going to having opposing hitters quaking in their boots.
In addition, Diekman is going to be a free agent after the 2018 season, so the Rangers wouldn’t be asking for a lot in return for a player who will essentially be a rental for the remainder of the year.
And who knows? If Diekman comes in and shows manager Gabe Kapler he still has some good stuff left in the tank, there is no reason to think the Phillies wouldn’t make him a team-friendly offer to come back next season.
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No, it won’t be the splashy trade that fans may be clamoring for and it won’t suddenly make the Phillies contenders in the National League. But it could help the team in the short term and give the starting pitching some relief that they know they can count on.
Sometimes the small moves can be more important than the big ones in the marathon that is a MLB season.