The Philadelphia Phillies have focused on improving their bullpen over the past several months, and the possibility of getting a late-season boost isn’t off the table.
Earlier this week, the Phillies transferred reliever Seranthony Dominguez to the 60-day injured list, opening up a 40-man roster spot for Brad Miller. Manager Joe Girardi updated Dominguez’s status, and responded to a question about whether the 26-year-old could return late in the 2021 season.
“It is a possibility,” Girardi said. “I think things have to go right, and there can’t be, really, any setbacks. But right now, we’re extremely happy with where he’s at.”
Just a few years ago, it appeared that Dominguez could be an All-Star caliber reliever after a rookie season in which he pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 53 games. Dominguez struck out 11.5 hitters per nine innings in 2018, and his 1.3 fWAR during that season has been unmatched by any Phillies reliever since.
But Dominguez suffered a UCL injury in early June of his second season, which ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of the 2019 campaign. While Dominguez spent the following offseason rehabbing and preparing for the 2020 season, he re-aggravated the injury in spring training and ultimately got Tommy John surgery in late July.
Girardi mentioned that recovery from the surgery typically takes between 12 and 15 months, which leaves little room for Dominguez to have any setbacks if he hopes to return in August or September.
The Phillies could have non-tendered Dominguez this offseason, but instead guaranteed him $727,500 for 2021. This signals that the team remains hopeful about his long-term value, even with uncertainty about his ability to stay healthy.
Any contribution from Dominguez in 2021 will be a bonus for a Phillies team that bolstered its bullpen through free agency and trades in Dave Dombrowski’s first offseason at the helm. This is certainly a change from 2020, when they banked on Dominguez’s availability, despite the clear fragility of his situation.
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