Following surgery and changes to how pitchers can be utilized, a long-standing member of the Philadelphia Phillies’ staff could be a non-tender candidate this offseason.
The Phillies announced Friday that Adam Morgan underwent a surgery on the flexor tendon in his throwing elbow that would keep him out between six and nine months.
Morgan, who debuted in 2015, currently stands as the second-longest-tenured member of the Phillies behind fellow reliever Héctor Neris. This surgery, however, could bring an end to his time with the club.
The left-hander has a 4.84 ERA in 199 appearances over the past six seasons. He found more success as a reliever, particularly in 2018 and 2019 when he posted a combined 3.87 ERA in 79 innings, after beginning his career as a starter.
According to Spotrac, he was set to make $1,575,000 before proration this past season and could be due for a raise in arbitration this offseason. The Phillies may instead opt to not tender Morgan a contract at all.
Morgan struggled in 2020, and missed time due to injury. His ERA was 5.54 in just 13 innings pitched. In addition to getting hurt, the introduction of the three-batter minimum may have played a part in the left-hander’s ineffectiveness, and could diminish his value when he returns from his elbow surgery.
Major League Baseball introduced a rule to start this past season that requires a pitcher to face at least three batters when entering a game. This rule largely diminishes the role of lefty-specialists who, before 2020, would face one or two left-handed hitters before being removed.
In Morgan’s best season in 2018, he made 37% of his appearances facing only one or two batters. Throughout his career, he has a 3.48 ERA against lefties, as opposed to a 5.58 ERA against righties. Making Morgan face more batters — and especially more right-handed batters — significantly hurts his effectiveness.
When considering that Morgan can no longer pitch in his optimal role and that he could potentially be out until next summer, the Phillies could choose to move on from the 30-year-old. The money that would go to Morgan in arbitration might be best allocated in another reliever that can pitch from the start.
After the bullpen’s disastrous 2020 season with a 7.06 ERA, the Phillies will need to find as many relief options that can consistently get outs throughout 2021 as they can. Morgan, despite being a Phillie for over half a decade, will likely no longer be an option for the team going forward.
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