After a horrific 2016, when Adam Morgan went 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA, the majority of Philadelphia wrote off the left-hander as a starter. Maybe he could be a long-man, we thought, when Morgan made the opening day roster for 2017. After Morgan’s first eight appearances that featured many treks to and from Lehigh Valley, we were laughing at our thoughts. He had an 8.59 ERA and opponents were hitting .364 off the lefty.
Well, we’re not laughing anymore.
Since June 24, after allowing two runs in Arizona that raised Morgan’s ERA to 8.59, the 27-year-old has been exceptional with a 2.05 ERA in his last 20 appearances. But over Morgan’s last 12 games, he’s been simply dominant, with an ERA of 0.52, striking out 23 batters in 17.1 innings. Opponents are hitting just .177.
When Morgan first came up with the Phillies in 2015, his fastball averaged at just under 90 mph. Last year it was 91.4 mph. But this season Morgan’s fastball is averaging 94.6 mph. After his brilliant three-scoreless-inning performance in the Phillies’ win over Miami Sunday, the left-hander topped out at 97. Morgan’s changeup is harder than it was, which is – on average – 12 mph slower. There’s also more of a discrepancy on Morgan’s curveball and slider to his fastball than in years past.
Perhaps that’s part of the difference in missing more bats, as Morgan’s K/9 is 10.5 – up from 7.5 last year and 5.2 in 2015.
Pete Mackanin is no longer using Morgan in a mop up role. Six of the last eight appearances where Mackanin has used his left-hander have come in high-leverage situations, with the score within three runs. Morgan was even awarded a hold in the Phillies’ win last Thursday in Miami, when he struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning.
Morgan may have been another putrid outing away from being removed from the 40-man roster, but the left-hander has flipped the switch, and saved his baseball life.
As far as the Phillies’ pitching staff currently stands, Morgan has been one of the best pitchers on the team, and as of late, has been the best pitcher on the team. With so many question marks surrounding the staff, Morgan has to be considered for a spot in the bullpen next year. The Phillies, at this point, would take anyone. But, I bet the last person they expected to have an impact like this would be Adam Morgan.
Keep proving us wrong.