The Philadelphia Phillies are making every effort to return to the World Series.
With a record of 87-75, the Phillies finished third in the National League East. They were 14 games behind the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, both of whom finished 101-61.
In the postseason, the Phillies surprised the baseball world by winning the National League Pennant. They then lost to the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the World Series.
The Phillies have spent the offseason refining and streamlining their roster.
In today’s MLB, starting pitchers often hand their game to the bullpen before the third time through the batting order. That makes a deep and credible bullpen a necessary part of a successful baseball team.
Most MLB teams are fortunate to have a credible, dependable closer on their roster.
The Phillies have an abundance of riches on the back end of their bullpen.
Manager Rob Thomson can reach out to anyone closer at right-hander Seranthony Dominguez, left-hander Jose Alvarado, right-hander free agent newcomer Craig Kimbrel, or left-hander Gregory Soto, who recently joined the club in a trade with the Detroit Tigers.
David Dombrowski, the Phillies’ president of baseball operations, has built a solid reputation as the constructor of successful MLB rosters.
Before joining the Phillies, Dombrowski enjoyed success in front office positions with the Chicago White Sox, Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox.
Despite all the success he has achieved, Dombrowski pursued one criticism in his tenure with both the Tigers and Red Sox; he did not improve their ineffective bullpens.
In their bid to return to The World Series, the Phillies added All Star shortstop Trea Turner as a free agent. Turner is expected to start in a very deep lineup that will include Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto and Nick Castellanos as the top five players. All Star Bryce Harper is set to recover from Tommy John’s surgery.
The Phillies also signed free agent right-hander Taijuan Walker to their rotation. He will join right-handers Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler and left-handers Ranger Suarez and Bailey Falter to round out a credible starting XI.
Adding a five-tool star player like Turner gives the Phillies a huge offensive catalyst. Having walkers on the mound to eat up innings strengthens a rotation that isn’t deep but is effective.
Turner and Walker’s signing was a standout move. But having four veteran helpers take over the ball at the end of games is critical to the makeup of the Phillies 2023 roster. Left free agent Matt Strahm will also join the bullpen and will likely serve in the middle innings.
Seranthony Dominguez-RHP-Age 28
Seranthony Dominguez was signed in 2011 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic.
He received a $25,000 signing bonus.
Arm problems and shoulder strains caused Dominguez to miss time early in his career.
Dominguez made his major league debut with Philadelphia in 2018 at the age of 23. He has always worked in relief.
According to Fangraphs.com, Dominguez throws his fastball at 97-98 mph. He’s basically a fastball/slider pitcher as a closer. He mixes in a substitution to throw the batsman off balance.
Dominguez worked in 54 games for the Phillies last year. He finished with nine saves in 51 innings served. He averaged 10.8 batters out per nine innings while walking 3.9 per nine innings.
Dominguez could be the first helper to get up and throw in the 9th inning. However, he will face a lot of competition from the other three closers on the squad.
Jose Alvarado-LHP-age 27
Jose Alvarado signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 as an international free agent from Venezuela.
Alvarado made his major league debut with the Rays in 2017 at the age of 22. He threw 29.2 innings, all relieved.
The Rays traded Alvarado for the Phillies in December 2020, in a three-team deal that included the Phillies, Dodgers and Rays.
Alvarado’s fastball clocks in at 98.5 miles per hour. He also uses a nasty changeup and slider.
Last season with Philadelphia, Alvarado made two saves. He pitched 51 innings in 59 games, all in relief. Alvarado hit an average of 14.3 batsmen per nine innings and walked an average of 4.2 batsmen per nine innings.
Craig Kimbrel-RHP-age 34
Craig Kimbrel is the group’s most experienced veteran.
Kimbrel was the 2008 third-round draft pick for the Atlanta Braves from Wallace State Community College in Alabama.
Kimbrel has served for six teams including the Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres and White Sox. If he takes the mound for the Phillies, he will begin his 14th season as a major league pitcher.
In his 709 games on the mound, Kimbrel has never started. Always used for relief, he has accumulated 394 saves.
An eight-time All Star, Kimbrel was the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year with Atlanta.
Brooksbaseball.com lists Kimbrel with a fastball/curveball combination. His fastball is at 70.69 mph while his corner, which he uses 29% of the time, is at 30 mph.
Last year, Kimbrel pitched 60 innings with the Dodgers. He saved 22 games.
Kimbrel hit an average of 10.8 batsmen per nine innings while walking 4.2 batsmen per nine.
Gregory Soto LHP age 28 on February 11th
Gregory Soto, the latest addition to the Phillies bullpen, might end up being the most used closer.
The Detroit Tigers signed Soto in 2012 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic.
Soto made his major league debut with the Tigers in 2019 at the age of 24.
Soto made the American League All Star Teams in both 2021 and 2022.
Soto throws a four-seam fastball at 99 mph, a sinking two-seam fastball at 98 mph, a slider, and a very occasional switch. As reported by Brooksbaseball.com, Soto uses his sinker 40% of the time, his four-seam fastball 29% of the time, and his slider 30% of the time.
With these three very solid pitches in his repertoire, it’s very difficult for a batsman to “guess” what’s coming his way.
Last year, Soto appeared in 64 games with the Tigers, all in relief. He had 30 saves. He hit an average of nine bats per nine innings and walked 5.1 bats per nine.
The Phillies sent infielder Nick Maton, outfielder Matt Vierling, catcher Donny Sands and utility player Kody Clemens to the Tigers for Soto, in a trade announced Jan. 7, 2023.
Under veteran front-office veteran David Dombrowski, the Philadelphia Phillies have created a balanced club that could make it to the World Series again.
While every team values quality pitching at the end of the game, the Phillies can send any of four closers with major league experience to complete baseball games.
With the additions of All Star Trea Turner and starter Taijuan Walker, relievers Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto could provide the Phillies with the strongest seamen in baseball.